Week 13 NFL Picks – brought to you by the hottest gambler alive

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Everything I touched last week turned to gold. A ridiculous string of winning bets. A 10-5-1 record against the spread in my picks (bringing my season record to a 55% win rate, which is as good as the pro’s). Going something like 15-2 in my bet recommendations. And did I mention a ridiculous amount of winning bets?

Week 12 was a blast. But when the dust settled on Sunday night, the oddsmakers were already hard at work making sure week 13 isn’t nearly as fun. I’m nervous. It doesn’t feel quite as easy this week.

So be careful out there this week, and don’t get overconfident (like I’m almost definitely going to do).

Here are the week 13 picks.

Teams on Bye: Cleveland, Tennessee

Dallas (-4) at Minnesota | over/under 44

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 23, Dallas 21

The Bets: Under (54) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

So I was already feeling suspicious of the obvious Dallas bet in this game. They’re coming off a gigantic home division win on Thanksgiving over Washington, and next week they play at the Giants, another gigantic division game. Tell me this doesn’t feel like the ultimate letdown or “everything goes wrong” game for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys really should realize that if they beat Minnesota, the Giants game is almost irrelevant. But I think they’ll succumb to thinking about how New York is suddenly nipping at their heels.

Statistically and logically speaking, Dallas should win and probably cover. But this is the time of year where weird shit happens.

And as you’re watching them look more like the 2015 Brandon Weeden Cowboys than this current installment, just remember that I tried to warn you, and even reminded you that Minnesota hasn’t lost a home game in regulation this year.

(Wrote all of that way before Dallas squeaked out a 17-15 win on Thursday night. Taking Minnesota with the points was the ultimate Sharp move. Feels like a good omen for the rest of the weekend.)


Kansas City at Atlanta (-4.5) | over/under 49

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Atlanta 26, Kansas City 23 (in OT)

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Atlanta has come through for me time after time this season, but I don’t see them doing it again in week 13. At best, they should be 3 point favorites because that’s the standard spread for two teams at a similar level of success/talent.

The fact that the KC offense hasn’t put up more than 20 points in over a month is alarming (last week’s Denver game saw a safety, a safety kick return and a FG in overtime that they were handed by Denver).

I think this game is going to overtime and I trust the Falcons offense just a bit more than the Chiefs defense in terms of pulling out a late win. But can’t pick Atlanta to cover.


Detroit at New Orleans (-5.5) | over/under 53.5

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 34, Detroit 27

The Bets:Over (54) / Over (44) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

I initially thought this was a dumb line because Detroit is 7-4 and possibly playoff bound while the 5-6 Saints are a longshot to be playing meaningful football in January.

But it turns out the Lions still don’t rate out very well in the overall advanced stats. Considering Detroit has the 32nd ranked pass defense and the Saints are slightly better at #25, I think the over is pretty damn safe in this one.

Four of the Saints six home games this season have exceeded 68 total points, and the two that fell below that number were against defensive stalwarts Seattle (5th in defense) and Denver (2nd in defense).

I’m reluctant to touch either team with the point spread because the Lions have been doing a great job making sure every game is decided by 7 points or less, but if ever there was a game for them to lose by double digits, this might be it.


Los Angeles at New England (-13.5) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: New England 28, Los Angeles 19

The Bets: New England (-3.5) in a 3-way tease / Over 34.5 in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

It’s probably safe to get the Patriots into a 3-way tease where you adjust the lines by 10 points. Even though it would be nice to not have someone favored by more than 3 when you’re risking so much in a teaser, I don’t think you have to worry about Jared Goff and the Rams pulling off any kind of backdoor (teaser) cover.

I also think teasing the over is super safe. Even with the Patriots rolling out a (permanently) Gronk-less offense, they’ll wander their way to 24 points at least. And since everyone should know by now that the Pats defense regularly gives QBs a career day, I think we can count on the Rams to put up a couple touchdowns.

I would put low confidence on picking LA to cover, but it feels more likely than the Pats rolling to an easy win against a solid defense in December football.


Denver (-4) at Jacksonville | Over/Under 40

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 21, Jacksonville 14

The Bets: Under (50) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Jaguars have scored more than 23 points exactly one time through 11 games this year. Do you really expect them to excel against the Broncos? No, they’re going to struggle mightily.

Keep in mind this is a pissed off, suddenly-outside-the-playoff-picture Denver team (ranked 2nd in defense) facing a full-on Jacksonville dumpster fire.

Denver games have gone over the teased total of 50 just once this season in regulation. The Broncos offense is even less effective on the road than at home. And the Jags putting up 14 points might be a generous estimate.

Crush the under in this one.


Houston at Green Bay (-7) | Over/Under 45

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 28, Houston 18

The Bets: Green Bay (+3) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Green Bay (-7)

So I was originally looking at lines during the Monday night game and the Packers were favored by 3.5 in this game…that woulda been awesome. Too bad they looked so decent in Philly and ruined everything. Imagine teasing them to +6.5 in this game? That train has sailed, but don’t be afraid to still tease the Packers down. They’re winning this game.

Rodgers is on an absolute roll and I think the Packers figured out that he needs to have the ball in his hands and give up on a real running game. Also, Jordy Nelson has 7+ catches in 3 of his last 4 games while having zero 7+ catch games in his first 7 games this year. Same with yards. Nelson has had 90+ in 4 of his last 5, but only had 1 such game in his first 7 games.

Houston on the road is 1-4, with their one win being a 24-21 nailbiter at the Jaguars.

The Packers are a favorite this week.


Philadelphia at Cincinnati (-1) | Over/Under 42

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 24, Philadelphia 21 (in OT)

The Bets: Cincinnati (+9) in a 3-way tease / Under (52) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Eagles are 1-5 on the road, where their road win was at Chicago. Think about that. This game feels very even.

Before I knew the lines, I pegged this game as a “don’t even look at the total…automatically bet the under,” and I stand by that.


Miami at Baltimore (-3.5) | Over/Under 40.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Baltimore 17, Miami 14

The Bets: Under (50.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

This is a pretty easy under. Yeah, the Dolphins are decent on offense, almost entirely due to the running game, but the Ravens have a top 5 defense, are awesome defending the run, and have given up more than 16 points only once in their six home games this year.

-Listen, if the Dolphins don’t slip up here, they could easily be 10-4 heading into week 16. They’ve gotta lose this game, but it feels like a close one.


San Francisco at Chicago (-1) | Over/Under 43.5

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: San Francisco 22, Chicago 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

These two teams have scored a combined 406 points this year. By comparison, the Falcons alone have scored 358 points (just 48 fewer points).

And with that, we’ll spend no further time on this game. Both teams are too volatile to rely on.


Buffalo at Oakland (-3.5) | Over/Under 49

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Oakland 30, Buffalo 27

The Bets: Over (39) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Oakland puts up 30 points on just about everyone and they give up almost as many. This game pits the 4th ranked offense (Oakland) against the 7th ranked offense (Buffalo). This is such an obvious over game.


NY Giants at Pittsburgh (-6) | Over/Under 48

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: Pittsburgh 25, NY Giants 20

The Bets: Giants (+16) in a 3-way tease / Under (58) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Giants (+6)

The Giants are on a 6-game win streak, but the last five have come against teams that are now under .500, and other than last week in Cleveland, they haven’t been able to beat anyone by more than a touchdown.

The Steelers look like a group who can beat non-playoff contenders (at Cleveland and Indianapolis in the last two weeks), but can’t beat contenders (4 game losing streak starting in week 6 against Miami, New England, Baltimore and Dallas).

I think this will be a close game because neither team is as good as we think they are. If anything, the Giants’ defense is the difference-maker.


Washington at Arizona (-2.5) | Over/Under 49

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 24, Arizona 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Washington (+2.5)

I could see a way where the Cardinals win by one or two, but it’s far more likely that the Redskins offense does just enough to get the late win. I really don’t have a feel for any bets because the Skins are definitely worse on the road, but the Cardinals have only won four games all year, and two of those wins came against the 49ers.


Tampa Bay at San Diego (-3.5) | Over/Under 47.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 28, Tampa Bay 18

The Bets: San Diego (+6.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with San Diego (-3.5)

I realize this should be a close game and that a lot of people will probably bet the Bucs just because they’re getting an extra half point. But something about this game screams Chargers to me. Either they win somewhat easily, or a sloppy, turnover-filled game looks more like a blowout with the final score than what really transpired.


Carolina at Seattle (-7) | Over/Under 44.5

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 27, Carolina 17

The Bets: Seattle (-1 or +3) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Seattle (-7)

Seattle’s back to their old ways of being unbeatable at home.

Meanwhile, on the road, the Panthers are 1-4 with their one win coming in Los Angeles.

The Panthers won’t put up much of a fight. Maybe they play decent defense for a while, but their offense will be almost no threat and eventually the Seahawks will break through.

I think people are forgetting that if the season ended today, the Panthers would get either the 7th or 8th pick in next year’s Draft. They are REALLY bad.


Indianapolis (-2.5) at NY Jets | Over/Under 49

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 27, NY Jets 24

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

This is a perfect 14 seconds that captures my exact thoughts about this game.

Here are the season-long stats that I’m tracking:

  • Favorites are 73-95-9 against the spread through 12 weeks (including 7-8-1 in week 12)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 89 times, Under 85 times, and Pushed 3 times
  • I’m 94-77-6 against the spread.

Enjoy week 13.

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Week 3 NFL Picks & The 2 Teams Screwing Everyone

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I don’t mean to come off as a know-it-all, but I definitely know where most of us have gone wrong through the first two weeks of the NFL season, especially when it comes to picking point spread winners.

Here are the four teams from each conference that we all thought would be the best going into the season, along with their against the spread record through two weeks:

AFC

  • Pittsburgh (2-0)
  • New England (2-0)
  • Denver (2-0)
  • Cincinnati (0-2)

NFC

  • Arizona (1-1)
  • Carolina (1-1)
  • Seattle (0-2)
  • Green Bay (0-2)

Using the results of my 15-person CBS Pick ‘Em league, anyone wanna guess which two teams have screwed people over the most so far?

If you said Seattle & Green Bay…Congratulations! You’re either still feeling the sting from these teams’ terrible performances, or you know how to answer a really easy question that’s slanted towards getting a specific response.

In week 1, 13 of 15 people in my league picked Seattle to cover against the Dolphins. In week 2, all 15 of us picked them to cover against the Rams on the road (including 7 people who had Seattle as their #1 or #2 weighted game for the weekend).

For the Packers, it was 11 of 15 people backing them in week 1 when they fell just a point shy of covering in Jacksonville. And in week 2, 14 people took them on the road against the Vikings.

So while the NFL overall doesn’t feel particularly crazy or any less predictable than it’s been in years past, these two perennial Super Bowl contenders have already screwed you three or four different ways on the young season.

As you’ll see in my picks, it’s time to stay away from these teams until they show us they’re not just living on past reputation. Let’s take a look at the week 3 picks.

Houston (-1.5) at New England | over/under 40.5

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 20, Houston 17

The Bets: Under (50.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

Holy shit, the Patriots are underdogs at home! Can someone find out the last time that happened, not including week 17’s in years where the Patriots were already locked into their playoff seed?

It’s very, very, VERY difficult to pick against Belichick, at home, giving less than a field goal, on a short week (for the other coaching staff)…especially when they are playing just a very good team, not a great team. Don’t get me wrong, the Texans are deserving of their 2-0 record, but it’s not like they’ve looked like world beaters.

While I think I’ll have better options that don’t cause me to secretly root against my team scoring lots of points, you could talk me into the teased under. Last year with a healthy Brady & Gronk, the Patriots went on the road and beat Houston 27-6. I see a similar amount of points being scored on Thursday night.

Arizona (-4.5) at Buffalo | over/under 47

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 24, Buffalo 17

The Bets: Arizona (-4.5)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Arizona (-4.5)

I’m actually a little surprised that this line has hung tight at 4.5 all week. I really thought money would pour in on Arizona. After all, the public loves the Cardinals, especially after their week 2 demolishing of Tampa. And the public knows the Bills have looked terrible, the ownership has been meeting with players behind the coach’s back, and that they just fired their offensive coordinator after week 2.

Considering I’m into an Arizona bet, I’m glad the line hasn’t gone up, but still confused.

Oakland at Tennessee (-1) | over/under 47

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 23, Oakland 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

So the Raiders have given up 306 rushing yards on 55 carries (5.6 yards per carry) through two games. The Titans just ripped off 140 yards on 23 carries (6.1 yards per carry) in Detroit last week.

This Raiders team is plenty flawed, but it’s tough to figure out if Tennessee can really take advantage of that. The Titans went out and won their game last week, but in a more real way, the Titans watched the Lions give the game away with SEVENTEEN penalties, several of them negating scoring plays.

If you’re sane, you stay away from this game.

Washington at NY Giants (-4.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Washington

The Score: NY Giants 26, Washington 22

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

At some point I’m going to have to decide if “backing the Redskins” is a hill I’m willing to die on. But in week 3, I remain undeterred. The NFC East continues to be synonymous with mediocrity. So regardless of the 0-2 / 2-0 records at play here, the right spread is Giants -3. Gimme some more Washington and keep your snarky comments to yourselves.

Cleveland at Miami (-10) | over/under 42

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Miami 26, Cleveland 20

The Bets: Over (31.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

You couldn’t pay me enough to make a bet on this point spread. That’s right. If you gave me a free bet on either side of this–I keep the profits but take on none of the risk–I would politely decline. But c’mon, you know I’m picking against Ryan Tannehill as a gigantic favorite.

More importantly: Tease this over down to 31.5. I promise you that Miami will get to ~26 themselves. Even a Browns team starting Cody Kessler (with Charlie Whitehurst looming over everything) will probably scratch & claw its way to seven points.

Baltimore (-1) at Jacksonville | over/under 47

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 24, Jacksonville 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

So a 2-0 team that’s an annual playoff contender is only favored by 1 against an 0-2 team that’s perennially at the bottom of the league standings? Would that be because the Ravens are winning in really ugly fashion (which is almost always their recipe for success) while the public still has a half-chub for the Jaguars? Cool. I’ll take Baltimore.

Detroit at Green Bay (-8) | over/under 48

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Green Bay 25, Detroit 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Detroit (+8)

I definitely want to pick against Green Bay because I don’t think they can beat many teams by eight points right now, but I have to at least pause and consider the fact that the Packers haven’t played a home game yet. That could cure some of the offensive problems.

In 2015, this would have been a safe spot to tease Green Bay down to -2 and pre-spend the winnings, but they’re sketchy as hell right now. I’ll stay away from a betting standpoint, and I’ll certainly be prepared to hate the Lions after they screw up this pick.

Denver at Cincinnati (-3.5) | over/under 41

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 24, Denver 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Cincinnati (-3.5)

The Broncos have to take their show on the road for the first time this season, meaning at least a slightly worse defense, Trevor Siemian dealing with crowd noise, and maybe the refs don’t make 100% of the favorable calls go in Denver’s favor.

I loved Cincy earlier in the week when it was -3, but the extra half point is terrifying. The Bengals need this game so much more than the Broncos (if Pittsburgh moves to 3-0 and Cincy falls to 1-2, say goodbye to the division). That’s the tiebreaker for me.

Minnesota at Carolina (-7) | over/under 43

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 27, Minnesota 10

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Carolina (-7) / Carolina is my #3 Survivor option

This is crazy. If you told me four weeks ago that the Vikings would be playing in Carolina with Sam Bradford as its starting quarterback, Adrian Peterson not on the field and they lost their starting left tackle after week 2, I would tell you that Carolina should be favored by 13 and that I’d be making a sizeable wager on the Panthers.

Now, is there a chance that the Vikings are only 2-0 because they beat a terrible Titans team and an underachieving Packers team and we’re about to see them get absolutely smoked by the first good opponent they face? Yes. That could definitely happen. And in fact, I’m basing my pick on this exact scenario playing out on Sunday. 

Remember, the Vikings were only able to put up 17 points at home against Green Bay last week. They should be even worse on the road.

Los Angeles at Tampa Bay (-5.5) | over/under 42

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Tampa Bay 23, Los Angeles 19

The Bets: Under (52) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

I don’t think the Rams’ offensive woes get cured in any way this coming Sunday, but I do think their defense will make life somewhat difficult for Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ offensive line. Another game where you just throw your hands up and keep your money in your wallet.

San Francisco at Seattle (-9) | over/under 40

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: Seattle 21, San Francisco 18

The Bets: Under (50) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

A sane person could talk themselves into either side of this spread. Seattle certainly hasn’t earned the respect to be backed while laying so many points. But you can also see how this could be the game that gets them on track. If they were going to shut down a team and dominate, this would be one you could picture it happening to.

Ultimately, it’s too big of a spread to take a really bad-looking Seahawks team. Last year (and even in week 1 this year), I would have been all over Seattle in a 3-way tease where they go to a +1, but I feel like I don’t even know this current installment of that obnoxious team from the Northwest.

Love me some under teased in this game though. Get on it.

NY Jets at Kansas City (-3) | over/under 43

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: Kansas City 24, NY Jets 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

Sorry, Jets. I’m not getting tricked into thinking what we saw against the sinking Bills is going to be a regular occurrence. I don’t think the offense does nearly as well against decent teams like the Chiefs.

San Diego at Indianapolis (-3) | over/under 52

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 29, San Diego 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

 

I had this whole paragraph ready about how I can see the Chargers winning a close game, and how incredibly embarrassing that would be for the Colts. And also how I was loving the teased over from a betting standpoint. But as I thought more & more about the Chargers and their injuries, and heard that even Antonio Gates might be out this week, I had to change courses quickly.

Even Philip Rivers teams have a point of no return with injuries, and I think this is the game where the spare tires fall off for the San Diego offense.

Already looking forward to Chuck Pagano crying in the locker room after this win and telling his team it was the most important game of their lives. Can’t wait.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Philadelphia | over/under 46

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 34, Philadelphia 17

The Bets: Pittsburgh (-3.5)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Pittsburgh (-3.5) / Pittsburgh is my #1 Survivor option

The Steelers might be my favorite pick this week. I said it on the Teasy Money Podcast (check it out on iTunes!) and I’ll say it again: I think the Steelers are about to show us exactly what happens when an awesome team faces a team that isn’t nearly as good as their 2-0 start makes it look.

Chicago at Dallas (-7) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 24, Chicago 16

The Bets: Dallas (-1 or +3) in a 2-way or 3-way teaser / Under 55.5 in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: Dallas is my #2 Survivor option

I’ve got the under hitting by 4.5 points so I’m clearly liking that. Brian Hoyer isn’t a good quarterback, but he is a guy who can probably move the ball reasonably well when equipped with Jeffrey-White-Royal as his receivers. I don’t think Dallas really wants to get into a high-scoring game with anyone right now. Watch them run on the Bears over and over and over.

Atlanta at New Orleans (-3) | over/under 53.5

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: New Orleans 30, Atlanta 28

The Bets: Over (43.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

Sure, I’ll keep going with the teased over (43.5 in this case) in New Orleans until it proves me wrong.

A couple facts about games in New Orleans:

  • In 2015, the average total points per game was 64.
  • This includes an astonishing five games that had more than 62 points.
  • In 2014, the total points per game was a more modest 52.25.
  • But since we’re talking about the teased over of 43.5, here’s how many of the last 17 games played in New Orleans went under that total: 1.

Don’t be an idiot. And don’t be scared that I lost you a bunch of money last week by assuring you the Giants/Saints over would hit. This is definitely happening. (Unless the Thursday night & Sunday night games are especially thrilling. Then all bets are off because the NFL is contractually obligated to never have all three of its PrimeTime games be awesome in a single week.)

If you’re into tracking season-long stats, here’s what I’ve got for you:

  • Favorites are 13-18-1 against the spread
  • The point total has landed on Over 16 times, Under 14 times, and Pushed 1 time
  • I’m 17-15 against the spread with my picks

Enjoy week 3.

Week 2 NFL Picks: Beware the Abundance of Heavy Favorites

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My intro to the Week 2 picks is purely self-promotion. Shameless, unadulterated self-promotion. I know you greatly enjoy reading my picks every week, but if that’s the only interaction you have with my incredible football insight, you’re missing out big time. You need to be listening to the Teasy Money weekly podcast where me & my cohosts go through all the upcoming games and identify our favorite bets. This is your behind-the-scenes look at how 2.5 gambling pros come to their rock solid conclusions every week before placing their winning bets.

You can actually subscribe to the Teasy Money podcast on iTunes and never miss a new episode. I think you can also subscribe on SoundCloud.

But the most important thing you can do is follow the Teasy Money twitter handle: @TeasyMoneyNFL, or my twitter handle: @rossgariepy, or my podcast partner’s twitter handle: @matysugs. This is where you’ll get updated on Friday & Saturday every week about our final bets, SuperContest picks, and other general bullshit that we find interesting about the NFL.

And yes, we made a solid profit in week 1. So saddle up and get ready for the awesome ride that awaits you as long as you’re willing to put 100% of your faith in us.

Here are the week 2 picks.

NY Jets (-1) at Buffalo | over/under 40.5

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 33, Buffalo 16

The Bets: NY Jets -1

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Jets (-1)

I’m on the Jets in this one. Just think the Jets offense will easily move the ball on a defense as mediocre (at least with current players missing) as Buffalo. And Sammy Watkins is…what is he? On the verge of being IR’d, but now toughing it out on short rest? Not buying it. How is Buffalo going to score any points?

I’ve actually already placed a bet on this one.

San Francisco at Carolina (-14) | over/under 45.5

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 26, San Francisco 10

The Bets: Carolina (-4) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Carolina’s a Survivor Pool option

Obvious part of a 3-team teaser. I feel like Carolina revealed their true selves last Thursday in Denver. Their offense will have games of looking like one of the better units in the league against mediocre defenses, and their defense will only get exposed by teams that have multiple really good offensive weapons.

Do not be fooled by San Francisco’s Monday night game. And definitely don’t forget Carolina has extra rest with their game being on Thursday and the 49ers playing on Monday.

Dallas at Washington (-3) | over/under 45

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 26, Dallas 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Based on Washington’s preferred defensive philosophy that was on display this past Monday, they’re going to have their Pro Bowl cornerback make sure Dallas’ #2 wide receiver, Terrance Williams, doesn’t have a huge day–kind of fail at that too actually–and then let Dez Bryant go off for 130 yards and a couple touchdowns, all the while paying no attention to Ezekiel Elliott, who will be ripping off big gains every couple plays.

Throw in an embarrassing number of offensive penalties and a seemingly-impossible amount of bad luck with any kind of 50/50 bounce of the football, and you get that shitshow that the Skins “displayed” on Monday.

No, they’ll be better. Almost have to be. I’m sticking with my preseason feeling that Washington’s a 10-game winner and Dallas is crap.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-3) | over/under 48.5

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 27

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Cincinnati (+3)

Wish I had a cool stat about these two division rivals having played five games in a row decided by a field goal or less, but apparently it’s not like that. In the last six games between the Steelers and Bengals, only one has been decided by four or less. But I’m picking Cincy still because this matchup should be even tighter than a 3-point win.

I like watching Pittsburgh’s offense operating, and it’s obviously fun watching perfect pass & catch between Roethlisberger & Brown, but I’m not buying the Steelers as the infallible team/offense that everyone came into the season expecting, and has only had their opinion reinforced after week 1.

New Orleans at NY Giants (-4.5) | over/under 53

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 28, NY Giants 26

The Bets: Over (43) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

As has been the case for a couple years running now, you already don’t wanna try to nail down either of these teams in terms of consistency and what level they’ll play at. So I’m leaving the spread alone. But doesn’t this feel like a shootout in the making? I’ll definitely be putting the over into a 3-way teaser.

Taking the Saints with the points because three seems like a more appropriate number for this game.

Miami at New England (-6.5) | over/under 42.5

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 30, Miami 10

The Bets: New England (-0.5) in a 2-way teaser / New England (+3.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with New Engand (-6.5), New England’s a Survivor Pool option

I know I’m setting myself up for a gigantic disappointment, but I have that feeling in my body this week. That sneaky over-excited feeling that precedes a game with all the makings of a blowout.

While both teams are traveling back to the East Coast after games out West, at least the Patriots got to go home and stay home. Miami had to jump right back on a plane a few days later. (I’m assuming they went back to Miami in between, but who knows?)

And yeah, I could see certain teams having a huge letdown if they were the Patriots coming off such a big win in week 1. But Bill Belichick doesn’t really allow letdowns to happen, and I’m sure plenty of people reminded Jimmy Garoppolo this week that it was only one game.

Kansas City at Houston (-2) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 24, Kansas City 20

The Bets: Over (33.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Forget about which of these teams you like more over the course of the year. For this particular week, the Texans seem to be in much better shape than the Chiefs, and they’re at home. Kansas City won in ridiculous comeback fashion in week 1, 100% due to the fact that the Chargers’ best offensive player went from destroying the KC defense in the 1st half to out with a torn ACL in the 2nd half. I was nervous about a defense without Justin Houston and a slowly-coming-along Tamba Hali, and it seems like for at least a little while, good teams can put up points on the Chiefs.

The Texans looked pretty much how I expected in their first test, a home win against Chicago. I like Houston giving less than a field goal, and I really like the over.

Tennessee at Detroit (-6) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 27, Tennessee 14

The Bets: Detroit (PICK) in a two-way teaser / Detroit (+4) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Detroit (-6), Detroit’s a Survivor Pool option

I have absolutely no feel for the total in this one. You could see the Lions scoring almost 47 on their own, but you definitely cannot put any faith in the Titans to pitch in with very much.

I do like the Lions to win by a touchdown, and I think they’ll establish in this game that they can beat up pretty good on the weaker teams of the NFL, especially at home.

Baltimore (-7) at Cleveland | over/under 42.5

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Baltimore 21, Cleveland 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Every week there’s that early Sunday game that just doesn’t get shown on the Red Zone Channel. Buffalo at Baltimore was that game in week 1. So I have no idea what to make of the Ravens. But while I won’t touch this game from a betting standpoint, I can promise you I’m picking against the Ravens laying seven points on the road in a divisional game.

Seattle (-7) at Los Angeles | over/under 39

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Los Angeles 19, Seattle 15

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Fuck this game. I’m a little bitter about my awful Seahawks bet last week combined with me paying a large sum of auction money to own Russell Wilson in fantasy. Not happy with the current state of Seattle.

This line is just absurd. Had Seattle won last week by 35, I wouldn’t have expected them to be a full touchdown favorite in this game just as long as LA played a reasonably decent game in week 1. Obviously, they didn’t. So the public will be lining up to bury the Rams in this one.

Complete stayaway for me, but LA gets the nod in my pick ‘em leagues.

Tampa Bay at Arizona (-7) | over/under 50

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Arizona 29, Tampa Bay 24

The Bets: Over (44) in a 2-way tease, Over (40) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Force me to make a pick, and I’m taking the Bucs. The offensive weapons they have should allow them to either keep it close throughout, or make a just-not-enough comeback in the 4th quarter if the Cardinals are playing a soft “keep everything in front of us” defense.

But it feels completely impossible to form a conclusion about Tampa Bay’s offense after they faced Atlanta’s mockery of a defense on Sunday.

Jacksonville at San Diego (-3) | over/under 47

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: San Diego 27, Jacksonville 24

The Bets: Over (37) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

The over in a 3-way teaser seems like a gimme. The Chargers being at home and facing an easier defense than they got in week 1 will compensate for the loss of Keenan Allen just fine. And the Jags are going to either put up points because they’re a good, competitive team, or because they’ll be down by 14+ points and will revert to last year’s garbage time champions.

As for the spread, I’ll take a push.

Atlanta at Oakland (-5) | over/under 50

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 28, Atlanta 14

The Bets: Under (60) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

I don’t think this is a slam dunk over. Atlanta put up 24 points (only two touchdowns) at home against a below average defense. Put them on the road against what should be at least an average defense, and there’s a real chance they don’t crack 17 points. So you have to rely on Oakland putting up 33+ in a game that could become uncompetitive.

Indianapolis at Denver (-6.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Denver

The Score: 25, Indianapolis 16

The Bets: Denver (-0.5) in a 2-way teaser / Denver (+3.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Denver (-6), Denver’s a Survivor Pool option

Listen, for the time being, Indy has a particularly generous defense and a one-dimensional offense. Denver, especially at home, should feast on those teams this year. Nothing the Colts can do should be able to confuse Trevor Siemian any more than Carolina was able to. And a team with three good cornerbacks and a great pass rush should create a long day for Andrew Luck.

In fact, the only thing the Colts do well on offense is throw deep. And what can you usually not do when you have an all-world pass rush coming at you snap after snap? Take the time to set up your deep routes and have the QB scan the field for the perfect matchup.

Also, Denver is on extra rest.

Green Bay (-3) at Minnesota | over/under 44

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Green Bay 23, Minnesota 20

The Bets: Under (54) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

If you learn only one thing early on in this season, please let it be that the Vikings played in a lot of games that went under last year, and they’ll play in even more this year. That’s what you get when a team has a really good defense but an inept offense.

This is a game where I wait for the line to bump up to Minnesota +3.5, and I bet them. It feels like someone’s winning this game by three, and I’m positive that later in the week, the public will start sending money in on Green Bay. We will get this spread at Vikings +3.5.

Philadelphia at Chicago (-3) | over/under 43

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 28, Philadelphia 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

I’m reasonably confident that the Eagles will be as bad as I thought they’d be prior to week 1, but I’m not putting any weight behind this pick because I need to see Chicago do a little more before I put them in that “mediocre” category.

Those are your week 2 bets. Did I mention that you can check me out on Twitter (@TeasyMoneyNFL or @rossgariepy) later in the week for my finalized bets? And that there’s a podcast called Teasy Money that you can listen to?

Enjoy week 2.

Week 1 NFL Picks: It’s Finally Here!!

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I know you all have gotten really used to my weekly NFL picks column over the last few years, but I’m trying something slightly different in 2016. Of course I’m still going to make my best prediction on the point spread for every game. Don’t worry about that going away. But while I was racking up an incredible profit from football gambling last year, I realized my loyal readers were missing out on plenty of great advice. I wasn’t giving you my favorite teaser bets of the week. I wasn’t consistently telling you which point spread picks ranked higher for me than others each week. So that’s the change you’ll see this year.

On top of the normal picks and the ridiculously witty comments for each game, I’m also delivering my favorite bets (if any) and whether I’d consider a certain team for my Survivor Pool pick or my SuperContest picks (the SuperContest involves picking just five games against the spread each week).

As you can probably guess after seeing six articles posted by me in the last three days, I’m over-the-top excited for the start of football season.

Let’s kick things off with the week 1 picks:

Carolina (-3) at Denver | over/under 40.5

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 24, Denver 17

The Bets: Carolina -3

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with Carolina (-3)

I don’t see this going very well for Denver. At least in the beginning of the season, their offense should struggle to crack 20 points a game. Carolina scored less than 20 points on the road just once in 2015 (it happened to be their one loss, week 16 in Atlanta). And there was a road game in Seattle where the Panthers offense methodically marched down the field on three of their four scoring drives and patiently dismantled the Seahawk defense. So they can do it to an awesome defense.

I know we all want money down on the very first game, but for me this is either a stayaway, or 1 unit on the Panthers by 3.

Green Bay (-6) @ Jacksonville | over/under 48

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Green Bay 24, Jacksonville 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Can’t Jacksonville at least keep this to a 3-point loss at home? They should be better all around, Green Bay may need to work off a little rust, and I’m reluctant to pick against a decent home team before we have any facts about this season.

But there’s really nothing you could do to get me to actually bet this game. Such a wildcard.

San Diego at Kansas City (-7) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: Kansas City 23, San Diego 17

The Bets: Kansas City (-1) in a 2-team teaser / Kansas City (+3) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Kansas City #2 Survivor Pool Pick

I don’t love a divisional matchup in week 1 with a team favored by a touchdown, even if it is this particular matchup of a real contender against a (best case scenario) mediocre team. Did you know that the Chiefs’ defense has ranked in the top 5 in total sacks in each of Andy Reid’s three seasons as head coach? And the year before, when they went 4-12, they were dead last in sacks? I bring this up because Justin Houston is definitely not healthy, and Tamba Hali might not be healthy. I want to see what this defense looks like with a much weaker pass rush.

While the under feels like an OK play here, I’m only comfortable using KC in a teaser to get them to a -1 or better.

Oakland at New Orleans (-1) | over/under 51

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 31, Oakland 26

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

This game was always a stayaway in terms of the point spread, but I was ready to throw the over in a 3-team teaser. I’ve soured on that in the last two days. I have enough good options to avoid feeling terrible the moment I place a certain bet.

Cincinnati (-3) at NY Jets | over/under 41.5

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 24, Cincinnati 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

You can think the Jets are going to struggle to get to eight wins this year and still pick them to win this game. Those two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. Yes, the Jets’ ridiculous schedule will take its toll and there’s just no way Ryan Fitzpatrick is allowed to make the playoffs, apparently, but they will have some good games with an offense featuring Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Matt Forte. They also had a top 5 defense last year.

And I’m on record as being concerned about the Bengals missing Mohamed Sanu & Marvin Jones (on new teams), Tyler Eifert (injured) and Hue Jackson (coaching the Browns)…all of whom were significant contributors to Cincy’s offense the past couple years.

Minor concern that we walk away from this game staring at an A.J. Green stat line of 9 catches, 165 yards, 2 touchdowns…and realizing Darrelle Revis is getting a little old.

Cleveland at Philadelphia (-4) | over/under 41

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 17, Philadelphia 16

The Bets: Under (51) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Hell No

For those keeping score at home, it looks like Vegas is saying the public thinks Sam Bradford was only worth two more points than Carson Wentz.

I really liked Cleveland when it was Philly -6, but I could easily see one of those thrilling 9-6 wins for either team so I’ll stick with the Browns. It feels like futile work to really sit and think about how this game will play out. While both defenses are shitty enough to let up a lot of points, neither offense can come close to taking advantage. That’s why I’m throwing the point total into a teaser that gets the under to 51.

Minnesota (-2) at Tennessee | over/under 41

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 19, Minnesota 17

The Bets: Under (41) or even better, Under (51) as part of a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Does it feel like the Titans are constantly screwing up your Survivor Pool on the first week of the season? That’s because in 2013 they upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh and then in 2014 went into Kansas City and routed the Chiefs. Add in last year’s big win for Marcus Mariota facing off against Jameis Winston in week 1, and the Titans are very randomly 3-0 in their last three week 1 games. Do yourself a favor and leave Minnesota out of any straight up picks this weekend.

Jump in on this under because I promise you we aren’t going to be using the word “explosive” to describe either team’s offense any time soon.

Chicago at Houston (-6) | over/under 44

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Houston 23, Chicago 20

The Bets: Houston (PICK) in a 2-team teaser with KC

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Houston #3 Survivor Pool Pick

I don’t doubt that Houston wins this game, so go ahead and use them in your Survivor Pool if you are trying to overthink things just a tiny bit. With the line increasing 2 points last week, probably because it’s being said that J.J. Watt will play, I’m grabbing the Bears. My assumption is that Watt won’t be nearly 100%, but Vegas knew it could count on an influx of Houston bets once that news broke regardless of the line.

There’s something especially difficult to figuring out the flow of this game. I initially liked the over after hearing how banged up Chicago’s defense is, but something feels off. Staying away on the point total.

Buffalo at Baltimore (-3) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 24, Buffalo 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

I feel like Baltimore will win by either 3 or 4 and the total amount of points will be 44-46. So clearly I can’t touch this game.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-3) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 21, Atlanta 20

The Bets: Tampa Bay +3, Under (48)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with Tampa +3

I like this game a lot. First of all, I think Tampa Bay is simply a better team and they can win outright.

Second, I think Vegas knows the public still considers Atlanta to be a “high-scoring offense,” and the offensive pieces for the Bucs are probably making people think they’ll play in a lot of shootouts. The truth is, neither team is very explosive on offense. I love the under, and I’m happy to slot Tampa +3 into one of my favorite 5 picks this week.

Miami at Seattle (-10.5) | over/under 44

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 28, Miami 16

The Bets: Seattle (-10.5), Seattle (-0.5) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Seattle #1 Survivor Pool Pick & Yes to SuperContest with Seattle (-10.5)

This is the most obvious component of a 3-team teaser ever. Seattle just has to win for that to work out so go ahead and count it. I know every year there’s one major shock on opening weekend that fucks up everyone’s Survivor pick, Pick’Em leagues and teasers, but this isn’t it.

The total of 44 points seems right, so I wouldn’t mess around with that. But there’s no way Maimi, one of the five worst teams in football, comes in and seriously competes.

NY Giants (-1) at Dallas | over/under 46

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 24, Dallas 20

The Bets: NY Giants (-1)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with NY Giants (-1)

The Giants win comfortably by 4 or 6 points. If you want to get the Giants in a 3-team tease that takes them to +9, I’m OK with that because there’s no way they don’t at least keep this a one-score game. And honestly, they should win.

Detroit at Indianapolis (-3.5) | over/under 51

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 30, Indianapolis 27 (OT)

The Bets: Detroit (+3.5), Over (41) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with Detroit +3.5

I’m still convinced that Indy is well below average, and they aren’t going to fare so well against real NFL teams. I also hear their defense is decimated from injuries this week. I always liked Detroit getting more than a field goal when looking at this game over the summer.

My bold prediction is that this game goes to overtime either at 24/24 or 27/27.

I don’t love the regular over, but I do like the teased over. And my podcast co-host and gambling partner is so in love with the over in this game that I basically don’t have a choice. I’ll be betting it in a teaser at least.

New England at Arizona (-6) | over/under 47

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 28, New England 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

If I wasn’t a Patriots fan, this game would be a complete stayaway. No idea about Garoppolo, no idea if the Pats defense is going to be the top 5 unit they looked like in August.

Being a fan makes it even more of a stayaway for me.

The reason I’m picking the Cardinals when forced to pick is because I can easily envision a scenario where New England’s down 7 or 8 with two minutes left in the 4th, and Garoppolo stumbles through an attempt to lead a patented Tom Brady comeback against a blitzing-on-every-down defense. And he gives the game away with an interception or fumble. No crazy expectations should be coming out of the Boston media or fanbase this week.

Pittsburgh (-3) at Washington | over/under 50

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 26, Pittsburgh 24

The Bets: Washington (+3)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Listen, I’m particularly high on the Redskins this year. It feels like no one else sees this as an 11-win team like I do. So obviously I like them at home getting three points against a Steelers team starting the season short two huge offensive pieces from last year (Bryant & Bell).

Los Angeles (-3) at San Francisco | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Los Angeles 17, San Francisco 14

The Bets: Under (43.5)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Ummm….43.5 for the over/under? I think this game barely cracks 30, and I might be assuming too generous of an offensive output from both teams. I think I have to call the under my favorite bet of the entire week.

If all you East Coasters wake up on Tuesday morning, look at your phones and scream, “Dammit! I can’t believe I went to sleep before the end of that epic game!” then I’ve gotten something horribly wrong about these teams and I’ll retire from all things football.

 
Those are the 16 games. Check out the twitter handle @TeasyMoneyNFL for my finalized bets over the weekend. Enjoy week 1.

My Gambling Nemesis: Guessing Each NFL Team’s Record (AFC)

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Earlier on Wednesday guest blogger Neil and I ran through our predictions for each team’s record in the NFC. Check it out HERE.

Later on we’ll have our playoff and Super Bowl predictions. But first, here are the win-loss predictions for the AFC.

Baltimore Ravens

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • This front office does not let this team stay down long; however, remember that doubling last year’s wins would still only be eight.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • I’ve been saying it since late last year…the 2015 Ravens were one of the unluckiest teams in recent memory. Nine of their 11 losses were by 8 points or less. Not a very difficult schedule and a return to health for Joe Flacco and other key pieces gets them right back into the annual playoff conversation.

Buffalo Bills

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I’ve watched my brothers run a fantasy team together for the last 10 years, and it never dawned on me that you would ever do that sort of thing with an actual team

Ross Prediction: 6-10

  • While Rex Ryan always hovers around 8 wins, you gotta deduct points for Rob Ryan being on this coaching staff. He makes every team worse. Also, this defense looks to be in tatters to start the season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Neil Prediction: 9-7

  • Still in a bit of awe on how they blew last season’s playoff game.

Ross Prediction: 10-6

  • They’re probably due for some regular season bad luck, and they also lost their WR2, WR3 and offensive coordinator over the summer. Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict are also out to start the season. Things could get off to a bumpy start in 2016.

Cleveland Browns

Neil Prediction: 4-12

  • See my Philly comment in the NFC version of this column.

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • The Browns could get two picks in the top 5 of the 2017 Draft considering they have their own 1st round pick as well as Philly’s. That’s what their fanbase should be focused on for the next 7 months.

Denver Broncos

Neil Prediction: 9-7

  • I believe the defense is extremely good. I believe they are going to get the same level of QB play they got last year. I believe they cannot have the same horseshoe up their ass as they did last year.

Ross Prediction: 8-8

  • I really don’t think the Denver defense has the energy & stamina to carry the offense for another full season. And I’m not buying that a 2nd year 7th round pick who’s never played a meaningful snap in the NFL is automatically better than Peyton Manning’s 2015 rotting carcass.

Houston Texans

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Why is everyone so sure they solved their QB issues?

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • I think we’re going to find out that Brock Osweiler is the definition of “average QB,” and that’s probably good enough for the Texans. Their schedule is somewhat difficult and the NFL did them no favors giving them three games in which their opponent is coming off a bye.

Indianapolis Colts

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Crappy team, crappy coach…but crappy division, a good QB, and they should have better injury luck than last year.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Mark my words: This team is going into their week 10 bye with a 3-6 record at best. I’m excited to place a bet on Chuck Pagano to be the first coach fired regardless of him getting a contract extension in the offseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Not buying the optimism.

Ross Prediction: 6-10

  • It just feels like all of these AFC South teams belong together in that 6-8 win range. And the Jacksonville hype train from the summer was far too wild for me. In trying to figure out the slotting of the Jaguars, Raiders and Bucs (see my comments in the NFC column), I think Jacksonville is most likely to be the one that is a complete wreck.

Kansas City Chiefs

Neil Prediction: 11-5

  • If they get their defensive players back and stay healthy, they’re one of the few teams that could give the Patriots a game in January.

Ross Prediction: 10-6

  • I think this is a 12-win team if fully healthy, but the uncertainty behind Justin Houston, Tamba Hali & Jamaal Charles (knee, knee & knee) makes me hesitate. Ten wins looks right.

Miami Dolphins

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • I guess the plan here is to decide if you need a new QB after this season in order to be a serious contender sometime in the next decade?

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They play nine games against teams with a top 12 defense from last year. Opening at Seattle & at New England, closing with: at Baltimore, Arizona, at Jets, at Buffalo, New England. That’s called getting fucked in both ends. They only get to six wins if the Patriots are resting starters in week 17.

New England Patriots

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • Ultimately, I think we are going to be happy with “four games fresher” Brady come January. Also, fuck you, Roger Goodell.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • This team has the talent of a 14-2 team, but they have to deal with the Brady sabbatical, a bunch of players coming back from injuries in 2015 and a brutal chunk of their schedule where they have five games against teams that ranked in the top 5 defensively last year. This will only be a “down year” in the wins column because of some weird circumstances.

NY Jets

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I do not think we can expect Fitzy to play well two seasons in a row.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • It feels like they’ve got seven guaranteed losses on their impossible schedule, and you know they’ll drop a couple winnable games. They have talent on both sides of the ball, but only enough to get to nine wins in a perfect world (which they don’t get to live in this year).

Oakland Raiders

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I would be more in on the hype if Khalil Mack could play QB too.

Ross Prediction: 10-6

  • I’ve got them losing a tiebreaker to the Chiefs for the division title but still sneaking into the playoffs as a Wildcard team. Of the Jacksonville/Tampa Bay/Oakland trifecta from last year, I think the Raiders are the most likely to actually take the step forward that everyone’s expecting. I’m sure they love the NFL scheduling them to have back-to-back East coast road games twice during the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • This is going to be a scary offense once they get rolling. I still don’t like the defense in January.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • They’ll be worse than last year because how can you be better when your 2nd best receiver is out for the season and your running back will miss three games? But a creampuff schedule will get them to 9 or 10 wins (assuming Roethlisberger starts at least 13 games).

San Diego Chargers

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Sleeper alert! Philip Rivers is going to single handedly keep San Diego an NFL town.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Just enough improvement from last year’s 4-12 record for the Chargers front office to once again have no clue whether or not Mike McCoy is worth keeping around as its head coach.

Tennessee Titans

Neil Prediction: 6-10

  • If they win the division, it wasn’t because they were a sleeper, it is because the division is a four-way coin flip, and the coin is made of feces.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • This will be a much better season from the Titans than everyone’s expecting…so much so that I felt compelled to bet on them at 8/1 odds to win the AFC South. But that was more because their division sucks and why not get such awesome odds when any of these teams could rise up and stumble their way to a 9-win division title?

Now you’ve got our rock solid predictions for all 32 teams. Coming up later, who makes the playoffs and which lucky teams get the honor of us jinxing them by putting them into our Super Bowl predictions.

My Gambling Nemesis: Guessing Each NFL Team’s Record (NFC)

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You know the drill by now. Guest blogger Neil and I have been competing in our own version of “Closest to the Pin” for four years now, and it pains me to have to say that the guy who spends every waking moment thinking about football (me) has a 1-3 record in this contest. Apparently I suck at predicting each team’s win total prior to the start of the season, or there’s some advanced math involved that Neil has used to crack the code on this game.

The rules are simple. We each guess the record of every NFL team, and whoever is closest to the correct record on the majority of teams wins the bet. The wager for 2016 remains the same as the past three years: Whoever wins gets to pick eight alcoholic beverages for the loser to consume during a 12-hour period during our annual Vegas trip in March.

I know our buddies who join us every year for this trip like it better when I lose because it’s much more entertaining (like when I did my best Tom Cruise impression three years ago and jumped from couch to couch at the sportsbook proclaiming to anyone who would listen that I loved my girlfriend and was getting ready to propose to her). But I’m seriously sick of losing this bet.

Let’s begin with the NFC teams.

Arizona Cardinals

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • I’m starting to get a tiny bit nervous about how much of their season hinges on an older QB with an injury history.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • You have to try really hard to find more than 5 games this team loses in 2016. Short of a devastating injury, which is foolish to base season-long predictions on, this team is a lock for the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • This feels like 11-5 or 5-11. Leaning towards the latter based on how last season ended.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Even if you think they improved from last year (they didn’t), they play seven games against 2015 playoff teams. Check out their first eight games and you’ll quickly talk yourself out of any success for this team.

Carolina Panthers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • Probably not going 15-1 again, but we might not know how good or bad they are until the playoffs based on their division.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • I’m pretty sure I know Neil is thinking Carolina might miss the playoffs, so I can be pretty conservative with their win total and still get what I want. A five-game regression from last season seems like the worst case scenario.

Chicago Bears

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Who will be in the title hunt longer this fall: Bears or Cubs?

Ross Prediction: 8-8

  • These NFC North teams get a little bump this year because they face the NFC East and AFC South, possibly the league’s two worst divisions. There are reasons for optimism in Chicago, but it’s probably too much to ask them to be better than this.

Dallas Cowboys

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • The division is soft enough that 8-8 might get a playoff spot, and they might be able to get half those wins without Romo.

Ross Prediction: 6-10

  • There’s no doubt in my mind that Dak Prescott isn’t walking into this league and firing off 8-10 wins. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Tony Romo will be rushed back too early, get injured almost immediately and end up playing in less than three full games in 2016.

Detroit Lions

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I actually think this team will surprise some people, but that probably means 8 wins.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • You’ll notice in my upcoming playoff predictions, I’m taking the Lions as the #6 seed in the NFC playoffs, but forced to make a specific prediction, I see them just above .500. They are better than most people are assuming, but I can’t picture them climbing up to 10 wins or more.

Green Bay Packers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • This team is probably slightly overrated, but no way to tell until the playoffs in their crappy division.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • I can actually see the path to 12 or 13 wins, but you gotta reserve a couple losses every year for the extremely subtle moments where Mike McCarthy proves he shouldn’t be an NFL head coach.

Los Angeles Rams

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • This defense and run game deserve a better pass game. Also, can TMZ leak Jared Goff’s Wonderlic answers?

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They are a 6 or 7 win team, but are stuck in the NFC West and have to travel over 32,000 miles over the course of the season. By comparison, there are several teams that only have to travel 6,000 – 9,000 miles.

Minnesota Vikings

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I wish there was a way to know what Minnesota’s record would have been this season with Bridgewater because I think it is going to end up the same without him.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • With a healthy Teddy Bridgewater, I would have only given the Vikings 8 wins. I was pretty down on them compared to the rest of the world prior to the injury. I think the season comes completely off the rails in November when they get 4 games in 18 days: Detroit, at Washington, Arizona, at Detroit.

New Orleans Saints

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I wish this defense hadn’t been so bad last year. I would like them as a sleeper.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Just like the last two years, Drew Brees and an above average passing offense drag this otherwise-awful team to enough wins to barely miss out on a top 10 draft pick.

NY Giants

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • My “nothing really horrible has happened with them this summer so they win the NFC East” team.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • What looked like a tough opening schedule got incredibly manageable over the last two weeks. The Giants start in Dallas (no Romo) and then play in Minnesota in week 4 (the Hill/Bradford experiment). If they sneak into the playoffs, I think the softening of that schedule is going to be the main reason why.

Philadelphia Eagles

Neil Prediction: 6-10

  • Their week 1 game with Cleveland may determine the top pick in the next draft.

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They’ll be the worst team in the NFC East, possibly by a longshot. Easy overall schedule is somewhat negated by the NFL dicking them good: weeks 5 & 6 are road games, and then they play 3 consecutive teams in weeks 7-9 who are all coming off their bye.

San Francisco 49ers

Neil Prediction: 5-11

  • How bad must Kaepernick be as a passer if he can’t start in Chip Kelly’s offense?

Ross Prediction: 4-12

  • “With the 1st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select…” The schedule includes eight matchups against top 7 defenses from 2015, and weeks 10-17 feature five road games and three home games against New England, the Jets and Seattle. That would be impossible even for an NFL-caliber team.

Seattle Seahawks

Neil Prediction: 11-5

  • I know every year they lose a couple important pieces, but enough of the defensive studs are still around that I think they have one more run in them.

Ross Prediction: 12-4

  • I think they’ve learned to prioritize getting the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, and I feel like I went through their worst case scenario on the schedule and see 11 wins as their absolute floor.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Is this the NFC sleeper or is Jameis Winston one year away? Yeah, one year away but frisky.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Possibly the hardest task we have going into this season is figuring out what to make of last year’s up-and-comers: Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay. In all likelihood, one of them will go on to make the playoffs, one will stagnate and have a similar season to last year, and one will be a wreck. Clearly I’m expecting some stagnation from Tampa.

Washington Redskins

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Their 1st place schedule means their extra games are against Arizona and Carolina, which keeps them out of the playoffs.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • I’m actually expecting 10 or more wins, but why go any higher if I know Neil’s going to take them for 8 wins or less? I really thought they were competent last year in a non-fluky way, and they’ve gone ahead and added Josh Norman and a few other complementary pieces. Cousins won’t be a perennial Pro Bowler, but I don’t think he’s a one-season wonder either.

Check back later on Wednesday for the AFC side of things.

An Evolving Relationship with Football

 

I love the way the world brings me little reminders throughout the month of August that the NFL season is just around the corner.

First it was the always-surprising-but-shouldn’t-be increase in my DirecTV bill to account for the cool $270 the NFL will charge me over 6 monthly installments for access to 17 weeks of football.

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Next came the annual botching of something really basic by that same multi-billion dollar league that charges me out the ass for their games.

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And finally, there was no shortage of careers being altered and (fantasy) seasons being screwed up in the month of August by non-contact injuries to body parts that are less than 1.5 inches in diameter.

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Like it or not, the NFL has been beating down our door for the past six weeks, so it’s probably time to open the door and let it in (otherwise it might literally beat down the door, physically attack us, and then escape any jail time after it pays us off in exchange for our silence).

As much as I’ve grown more & more disenchanted with certain aspects of the NFL (more on that in a minute), the truth is, we need it in our lives. If I have to accidentally overhear the dialogue in my wife’s favorite movie, the Hallmark Channel presents The Convenient Groom, one more time, I might go off the deep end.

Oh, you wanted to hear the synopsis of The Convenient Groom, a real movie that you thought I made up? Here it is: “When a celebrity marriage counselor is left high and dry at the altar, her contractor steps in as the groom to help her save face.”

Boom. That was summertime at the Gariepy household.

If you think you’ve reached your breaking point with the NFL after years of blind loyalty to the league because now-a-days being a football fan feels dirtier than ever, just do what I do: Treat the league as your personal piggybank (kind of like how they treat us like their personal piggybanks).

In the past 20 years, I’ve evolved from being the naive teenager who pretended to be Isaac Bruce or Marvin Harrison whenever he caught a pass during our neighborhood football games (for whatever reason, those were the 2 guys I always pretended to be when laying out to catch one of my brother’s wobbly passes), to the college student who spent every Sunday at a bar rooting for his favorite team and players, to the dignified adult standing before you today saying that my relationship with the NFL has become purely transactional.

I’m treating the past 20 years like an investment or a college education on all things football. And now it’s time to get the return I’m owed from the slimy NFL.

While I’ve been making picks against the spread in this internet space for the past few years, I’m turning up the dial on the gambling-themed blog posts this year. I’m sure there will still be times when I talk generally about the latest news and results in the NFL, but for the most part, every bit of research I do, every moment I devote to watching the games, is with an eye towards how I can fund my extravagant lifestyle from gambling profit.

In fact, I recently launched a podcast with a couple friends where we plan to give you all the winning bets during every week of the NFL season, and you can find that podcast and subscribe to it either on iTunes or SoundCloud.

So before the NFL season officially kicks off on Thursday night, expect a flurry of activity from me that will be mostly geared towards some preseason bets you should make, a prediction around the exact record of each team (so you can hit your over/under win totals), and of course, the return of the weekly picks column including more bets than ever before!

Hope you’re ready for a fun 21 weeks. I am. It’s just that these days, fun = profitable when it comes to my enjoyment of the NFL.

 

 

 

Week 16 NFL Picks: The Underdog Awakens

julio

“Help us, Julio Jones, you’re our only hope.”

-Princess Leia, if she was a football fan who didn’t want to see the Panthers go 16-0.

It’s Christmas week and that means three things for the NFL picks column: 1) I’m posting it on Wednesday evening because many of you will be out of the office on Thursday, or you’ll be at the office but not contributing to the growth of the American economy because you’ll be eating and drinking your way through your company’s holiday party, 2) Because I’m posting this a day early and it’s the weird time of the season when most teams are out of playoff contention, there are likely to be some game-swinging roster decisions between now & Sunday that make these picks useless, and 3) I don’t have the time for a fancy intro to the picks column, nor do you have the attention to read it.

Here are the week 16 picks.

San Diego at Oakland (-6)

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 27, San Diego 11

This game is meaningless so any words I write about it will also be meaningless. Can the Raiders do what the Chargers just did to the Dolphins last week? Win BIG in what could be their final home game ever? Yes, I’m pretty sure they can.

Washington at Philadelphia (-3)

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 28, Washington 23

Washington can actually clinch the NFC East this week. Think about that sentence for a second. Four months ago people like me were wondering who would get the 1st pick in the 2016 Draft, Washington or Cleveland. Amazing. If the ‘Skins win, it doesn’t matter what the Giants or any other NFC East team does the rest of the season. Kirk Cousins will be the starting quarterback for the NFC’s #4 seed. Buuuuut it just wouldn’t be right if this division didn’t come down to the final week.

And while I was initially rooting for Washington to occupy that automatic playoff spot, I gotta say, the idea of the Giants sneaking in, somehow knocking off the Seahawks in the Wildcard Round, and then matching up in another street fight with the Panthers in round 2 is too enticing not to root for.

San Francisco at Detroit (-10)

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: Detroit 16, San Francisco 10

You know how many times the Lions have won a game by more than a touchdown this year? Once. This is just a ridiculous line and thankfully we’re at the point of the season where we can gloss over these games between two non-contenders. Next.

Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Baltimore

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 19

The Steelers ballwashing is officially off the charts. Listening to the media and even the watercooler talk at your job, you’d think this team would have easily gone 16-0 if only they had a healthy Ben Roethlisberger all season. No one wants to face them in the playoffs, blah blah blah. Even my gambling partner in crime can’t contain himself. Every week I get a text to the effect of, “Let’s put it all on Pitt. No way they could ever not cover this.”

I’m sorry, but there’s something nerve-racking about backing this team by double digits on the road. It’s absolutely ridiculous that I’m picking a Mallett-led Ravens team against the greatest team in the world, but I am. Deal with it.

Dallas at Buffalo (-6)

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 24, Buffalo 16

Strange happenings with Rex Ryan, right? Based on DVOA, the Bills have the 7th best offense in the league but the 4th worst defense. Can we really trust this team to handle Kellen Moore and the Cowboys by a touchdown? No, we can’t. And here’s the crazy thing: Buffalo’s downfall in 2015 can be directly attributed to their struggles against the NFC East. If they somehow lose this game outright, they will finish 0-4 against that lowly division. If they were even average against one of the league’s worst divisions, they’d still be fighting for a Wildcard spot.

Chicago at Tampa Bay (-3)

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 27, Tampa Bay 23

When two teams have absolutely nothing to play for–neither of these teams is making the playoffs nor can they jump into the top five picks of the 2016 Draft–I trust the team that’s better coached and has more experienced players. That would be Chicago by a longshot.

Carolina (-7) at Atlanta

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 22, Carolina 20

This is not a rational pick. This is: “I’ve been watching football closely for more than 20 years and it just feels like something insane is going to happen in this matchup.” Insane like a Cam Newton injury. Insane like Julio Jones somehow, some way going off for 320 receiving yards. Insane like the Panthers fumbling the ball 14 times or Tedd Ginn Jr. dropping 8 touchdown passes.

It’s also time for me to start hedging on my preseason bet of “will any team go 16-0?” I have it at 25/1 odds. That sounds like a moneyline underdog bet to me.

Cleveland at Kansas City (-13)

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 10, Kansas City 9

OK, I jumped the gun several times this year by writing in previous weeks that “Cleveland’s going to find a way to screw up a potential #1 overall draft pick.” They still need help from Tennessee to get there anyway, but I do think this is the week where Browns fans scream at their team for winning an easily losable game.

Indianapolis at Miami (-1.5)

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 17, Miami 10

It’s looking almost impossible for the Colts to win the AFC South. They need to win their final two and have the Texans go winless the rest of the way (unlikely since Houston faces Tennessee and Jacksonville). And Andrew Luck probably won’t be seen again the rest of the year. And Chuck Pagano, among others, are probably getting fired in early January. But despite all of that, the Colts are a far superior team compared to the Dolphins.

New England (-3.5) at NY Jets

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 9, New England 6

The Jets played the Patriots very close back in October in a road game. At that time, the Patriots had almost an entirely healthy team. The Jets play the Patriots close more often than anyone else. The Jets have a good defense. The Patriots are back down to Gronk and no-name receivers after Danny Amendola re-injured his knee last week. Oh, and for good measure, the Jets have the #1 rush defense in football.

I can’t imagine a scenario where the Patriots win this game.

Houston at Tennessee (-4.5)

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 34, Tennessee 14

And the most preposterous line of the week goes to…this game! I don’t care if it’s Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden or David Carr starting for the Texans at quarterback. This is such a disrespectful line. The Texans have played themselves into great position to claim the AFC South (and likely get trounced by the Chiefs or Steelers in the Wildcard Round), and yet Vegas has them as underdogs to the team that’s almost definitely going to finish with the worst record in football? And not even a small underdog! A 4.5-point dog! I wish nothing but bad fortune on anyone dumb enough to pick Tennessee this week.

Jacksonville at New Orleans (-3.5)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 47, New Orleans 42

Yawn. The Jags seem to do well as underdogs and seem to shit themselves when favored. Nothing to play for on either side. Drew Brees maybe sits this one out? This is my Stayaway Game of the week because…who the F cares?

Maybe two explosive offenses can treat us to a RedZone Christmas miracle? The kind of game where RedZone Channel is constantly cutting in to tell us both QBs have now gone over 400 yards on the afternoon?

Green Bay at Arizona (-4)

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 27, Green Bay 17

It’s too bad the Packers suck. I think we all still remember that Aaron Rodgers vs Kurt Warner showdown in the 2009-10 playoffs when the Cardinals escaped with a 51-45 overtime win in Rodgers’ first career playoff game. It would be nice to get Rodgers vs Carson Palmer in January in a sort of “part 2,” but the Packers blow. It won’t happen. Or it’ll happen and it won’t be exciting in any way.

I hate the Tyrann Mathieu injury for the Cardinals. I think that really sinks their chances to win in Carolina in the NFC Championship game. But I don’t think it really affects the defense all that much against the Packers. And Green Bay simply can’t match points with the Cardinals right now.

St. Louis at Seattle (-14)

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 37, St. Louis 13

I’m irrationally excited to bet against Seattle when they’re favored by 8 at either New York or Washington in the Wildcard Round. Please, Seahawks, keep beating the shittiest teams in the NFL by three touchdowns. I don’t want the rest of the world to even get an inkling that you might not be as good as you seem. Their five-game win streak: vs San Francisco, vs Pittsburgh (no Roethlisberger in the final 10 minutes), at Minnesota, at Baltimore, vs Cleveland.

Crap. I’ve said too much.

NY Giants at Minnesota (-6)

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 33, Minnesota 14

As I write this sentence, the NFL hasn’t announced its decision on the Odell Beckham suspension (it’s 4:25pm Eastern on Wednesday so it should, in theory, happen any second). I’ve held off as long as possible. I’m going with the Giants either way.

Either the suspension will be upheld and the entire world will bet the Vikings because New York’s most important player is out, or the suspension will be overturned and this number will go down to something like Minnesota -4. And my dream scenario of seeing Beckham get ejected from the Giants-Panthers playoff game can only stay alive if the Giants win this week.

Cincinnati at Denver (-3.5)

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 24, Cincinnati 7

Maybe I was a week early with the “this is the time of year when Marvin Lewis packs it in and gets conservative” comment. But the Bengals weren’t nearly as good as the final score indicated in their win in San Francisco last week. AJ McCarron against the Denver secondary on the road probably isn’t going to work out too well. I love Denver in this game. L-O-V-E. LOVE.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 5 Favorites, 11 Underdogs
  • 3 Home Dogs, 8 Road Dogs
  • 8 Home Teams, 8 Road Teams
  • Season Record: 106-111-7 (6-10 in week 15)

Enjoy Week 16 and good luck with your in-laws this week.

Week 14 NFL Picks: Are Your Playoff Dreams Dead?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

Isn’t it interesting how one person’s dream can be another person’s nightmare? Kind of like the trash/treasure saying, the same goes for dreams. I’m not talking about the dreaming we do when we’re asleep. I’m talking about dreams in the sense of hopes, wishes and fantasies. For instance, take a look at this poor guy’s dream, which he shared with the whole world on Thursday Night Football last week:

 

lions fan

Yikes. That’s a rough dream. That’s the type of dream that would actually be a nightmare to a Patriots fan like me (or to a handful of other teams’ fanbases). But all this man with the wispy mustache wants is for his Lions to reach the pinnacle of success (in Detroit speak), a 9-7 record.

But as a bogus facemask penalty, an untimed final play and Aaron Rodgers proved last Thursday, dreams can’t always come true.

Another example: My dream is for the people in charge of the NFL to have just one collective brain cell that’s operating at full capacity so that they’ll be able to make even the most basic of decisions in the best interest of their fans.

But as the week 14 schedule clearly indicates, dreams can’t always come true. The geniuses at NFL headquarters scheduled 11 games for the early timeslot on Sunday (1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific) and a whopping 2 games for the afternoon timeslot.

If you asked a three-year-old with severe brain damage how these 13 games should be split up, his top 500 ideas wouldn’t include “11 games in the early spot and 2 games in the late spot.”

And this doesn’t have anything to do with most of the games being hosted by teams in the Eastern or Central time zones. It’s true that that’s where the majority of games take place this week, but that’s never stopped the NFL from scheduling an East Coast game in the late spot. Just last week, for example, the Patriots hosted the Eagles at 4:25pm Eastern. This isn’t rocket science. It’s not even remedial 1st grade science. Grab two or three games from the morning and stick them in the afternoon. Make your league’s fans, the people who literally pay you billions of dollars a year, just a tiny bit happy by showing a shred of decency. Maybe a holiday gift for your loyal followers.

But no, we can’t even get that. Instead we’ll try to follow 11 games over a three-hour period and wind up missing the majority of the action in most of them. Perfect. But not to worry! After those games finish up, we can put our full attention on Raiders/Broncos & Cowboys/Packers! Hurray!

So yeah, dreams are bullshit and life is meaningless…especially for that Lions fan. After their brutal loss last Thursday, the best they can do is 8-8. And that won’t get them a playoff spot.

Luckily for many other fanbases, the dream of a playoff berth is still alive. But I’m here today to crush those dreams for all but 12 groups of supporters. Last week I mentioned how 28 teams were still technically alive and I dreamed about some awesomely awful playoff scenarios. This week I figured out with scientific precision exactly what the playoffs will look like, right down to the final records and seedings. Are you ready to have your dreams either realized or crushed? Here it is:

NFC Playoffs

  1. Carolina (15-1)
  2. Arizona (14-2)
  3. Green Bay (10-6)
  4. Washington (7-9)
  5. Seattle (10-6)
  6. Minnesota (9-7)

Notes

  • Washington gets in on the 4th tiebreaker over the 7-9 Giants. Both teams go into the final week at 6-9, both teams win, but the Redskins win the division. Same overall record, tied head-to-head, same division record, same record against common opponents, Redskins go 6-6 in conference while the Giants go 5-7.
  • Teams missing out just barely on the playoffs: Chicago and Tampa Bay, who both go 8-8.
  • Atlanta goes down as the biggest disaster of the season after wasting a 5-0 start by finishing 7-9 (which would mean a Cleveland-like 2-9 finish to the season).
  • The NFC Wildcard Round will feature (6)Minnesota at (3)Green Bay and (5)Seattle at (4)Washington. What’s crazy is that this is the exact same matchups of the 2012 NFC playoffs, right down to the seedings of these four teams.

AFC Playoffs

  1. Denver (13-3)
  2. New England (13-3)
  3. Cincinnati (12-4)
  4. Indianapolis (9-7)
  5. Kansas City (10-6)
  6. Pittsburgh or New York Jets (10-6)

Notes

  • If Kansas City, Pittsburgh and New York all finish 10-6, the Chiefs’ conference record will get it the #5 seed, and I actually can’t figure out the tiebreaker between the Jets & Steelers because it’ll probably come down to strength of victory.
  • The only other worthy AFC team that barely misses out is Buffalo at 9-7.
  • The AFC Wildcard Round will feature (6)Pittsburgh or the Jets at (3)Cincinnati) and (5)Kansas City at (4)Indianapolis. Not nearly as crazy as the NFC matchups but still interesting is that this is almost exactly how the AFC playoff bracket came together in 2013.

So there you have it, everyone. The records, seedings and matchups have been decided. Feel free to take the rest of December off and check back in for the playoffs in January. Unless of course you’re trying to make money off the NFL…in which case, check out the week 14 picks.

Minnesota at Arizona (-10.5)

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 31, Minnesota 13

I haven’t shown Carson Palmer a lot of respect over the years. Basically from the time he went to Oakland until a few weeks ago, I’ve felt like he was just an average quarterback at best. I assumed his career was over when he was in Oakland, and I figured the Cardinals were just getting a turnover and injury machine when they grabbed him a couple years ago. But that’s the smoke & mirror effect that playing for the Raiders will have on a career. I can’t keep spitting in the face of results. So I often have to remind myself that over the past two years, the Cardinals are 18-3 when Palmer is the starting QB. That translates to 13.7 wins per 16-game season. I think we should all be rooting for Palmer’s health because it would be nice to see what he, Bruce Arians and the rest of that extremely fun team can do with a full roster in January.

The reason why that record should easily improve to 19-3 with Palmer at the helm is because their opponent, the Vikings, are an anomaly. They’re a pretty atrocious 8-4 team that benefited from an extremely easy early-season schedule and all their advanced stats say they’re closer to a 6-6 team right now. The most interesting piece of data though is around Teddy Bridgewater. You probably hear a lot about this 2nd year QB who’s led the Vikings to the cusp of the playoffs. But did you know that Bridgewater has thrown only 8 touchdown passes this season? He’s thrown that exact same amount of interceptions. If you combine his rushing numbers, he’s produced 10 touchdowns while turning the ball over 13 times in 2015. That’s bad. Against some teams, Adrian Peterson can cover up the ugly spots on this offense. But not against the Cardinals.

Thankfully Arians doesn’t like letting his foot off the pedal either, so I’m not worried about the backdoor cover.

(BUYER BEWARE: This line was Arizona -7.5 at the start of the week and it has gone up, up, up. Obviously Vegas is dying for some people to put money on the Vikings before kickoff tonight.)

Buffalo (-1) at Philadelphia

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 26, Philadelphia 16

For all the bashing that we do of the NFC East and particularly the Eagles, it’s a little impressive that two of their five wins have come against AFC East teams. We like to think the NFC East can only beat each other, but that’s not exactly the case. That’s where the compliments for Philly end in this column.

The Bills are playing very well over their last five games. They have three wins, and their two losses are each by a touchdown to the Patriots and Chiefs. Their defense is decimated by injuries, but against the Eagles that shouldn’t matter. Remember that Chip Kelly’s offense only put up 19 and 17 points to the Dolphins and Bucs, respectively, in home games just a few weeks ago (and they only put up 14 on the Patriots). I’m expecting Tyrod Taylor & Sammy Watkins to do what Tom Brady & Brandon LaFell couldn’t do to Philly last week: Connect on deep passes early and often.

Seattle (-7.5) at Baltimore

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 27, Baltimore 0

This season for the Ravens has been absolutely crazy. The injuries to essentially every player on the original 53-man roster are well documented. But it’s incomprehensible to the feeble human brain that this team has played 12 straight games that have been decided by a touchdown or less. That just doesn’t compute. And the poor Ravens fans probably wouldn’t mind some of the drama being taken out of every single Sunday. If your team is going to lose 8+ games in a season, might as well have some of them be blowouts to ease the stress and anxiety levels. Even subbing in Matt Schaub hasn’t given this team the kick in the ass it needs to lose games more convincingly.

So do we finally see the bottom fall out now that Baltimore’s up against the newly-anointed kings of the advanced stat rankings? In a word, no. I realize Seattle is playing good football and we’re starting to hear about how scary they’ll be come January. But I’m sorry I’m not impressed by a big win over the crappy Vikings, a close win at home against the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger missing the pivotal moments of that game, and a blowout win over the 49ers. That’s actually a pretty unimpressive list of opponents right there. I don’t think Thomas Rawls is the second coming of Peterson. I don’t think the team is “better off” without Jimmy Graham. And I don’t think they’re a great road team.

Matt Schaub is going to make people say, “He threw another pick-six and the Seahawks only won by 7. Wow.”

Wait a minute…I just said that about Matt effing Schaub? And he is severely banged up to the point where they might start Jimmy Clausen over him? Or both guys might play? NEVERMIND. Seattle by 80.

San Francisco at Cleveland (-1.5)

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: San Francisco 12, Cleveland 10

The road team in this game is 1-5 on the road this year, but the home team is 1-5 at home. These are the two worst teams in football according to FootballOutsiders.com. It’s Blaine Gabbert vs Cleveland’s 3rd option at QB. This is the Browns’ last chance to win a game before next September. That usually means they’ll find a way to lose in heartbreaking, never-seen-it-before fashion.

Detroit (-1.5) at St. Louis

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 17, St. Louis 6

It’s amazing that between these two teams, the coach who hasn’t yet blinked even once while on the sidelines this year is doing a significantly better job than the coach who has been fiery and openly challenging his players. Both teams are 4-8 and can be looked at as huge disappointments. And yet, Jim Caldwell seems to be in great shape compared to Jeff Fisher. I guess that’s what happens when your fans dream of going 9-7 and you may fall just short of that at 8-8 or 7-9. Hopefully for the Lions the extra days off after last Thursday’s game gave them enough time to move on from such a devastating loss. Fisher is out of answers and I don’t think he’s going to find any this week when his 32nd ranked offense puts up single digits at home, again.

Tennessee at NY Jets (-7)

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: NY Jets 22, Tennessee 17

I’m just not interested in backing the Jets when they need to win by more than a touchdown over anyone. I know they’re much better than the Titans (isn’t everyone?), but they just aren’t a team who reliably handles weak competition with ease. It’s a simple pick for me unless this line drops to 6.5 or lower.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (-3)

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 41, Cincinnati 38

Remember how in the recent history of Steelers vs Ravens the games would almost always end in a three-point victory for one of the teams? This feels like where we’re at with Steelers vs Bengals now. Except instead of ugly, brutal, low-scoring slugfests, we’re going to get the much more aesthetically pleasing barnburner where both teams score at will and whoever has the ball last wins by a field goal. At least that’s my hope. It would be such a shame if these two uber-talented offenses didn’t match points through 60 minutes.

If things play out just like that, then we’re talking about a futile effort figuring out who wins/covers in this game. I’m taking the Steelers for the sole reason of having to root against Cincy down the stretch if I want the Patriots to have an easier path to a 1st round playoff bye. But there’s no way anyone should be putting confidence no matter which way you lean. This absolutely qualifies as my Stayaway Game of the Week.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville (PICK)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 24, Indianapolis 21

Nothing can convince me that the Colts are significantly better than the Jaguars. These two unimpressive teams have already played once this year. It was an overtime win for the Colts at home, and Matt Hasselbeck was Indy’s starting QB in that game too. So why wouldn’t the Jags be favored by the standard three points for being the home team this time around? Because Vegas knows the public only sees the names of the teams (Indy = good!, Jacksonville = crappy!) and doesn’t think twice about it.

And, hey, why should the NFC East get all the attention for being a putrid division? If the Colts lose this game and the Texans lose to the Patriots, both teams will be 6-7, the Jaguars will only be one game back at 5-8 and we’ll all have a good laugh.

San Diego at Kansas City (-10)

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 37, San Diego 17

It goes against everything I know to so easily pick a double digit favorite to cover without giving it any real thought. I can’t believe we’ve reached the point in this AFC West matchup where it’s as obvious as a Cleveland at Seattle situation. Any spread less than 14 points here feels like a steal. Just three weeks ago the Chiefs demolished the Chargers by 30 points in San Diego. How are we to expect anything different this time around?

Washington at Chicago (-3)

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 30, Washington 21

Their records are the same. The advanced stats have them ranked right next to each other, about middle of the pack among the 32 NFL teams (Of course, the Skins have the benefit of being in the East, which makes them tied for 1st place while Chicago toils away in 3rd place in the North). But I’m a little more impressed with Chicago over the course of the season and especially lately. Add in the fact that Washington hasn’t won a road game yet this year (sometimes teams just really aren’t good on the road), and I’m thinking this is a not-too-difficult win for the Bears. Don’t worry, Washington fans. There’s a 95% chance the other three teams in your division also lose this weekend and your hold on 1st place will remain intact.

Atlanta at Carolina (-7.5)

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 29, Atlanta 20

Isn’t this line a bit disrespectful to the Panthers? The Falcons have been playing like one of the worst teams in football for the past two months. That’s not an exaggeration. They’ve lost to plenty of questionable teams since that 5-0 start that seems more like two years ago than two months ago. Meanwhile the Panthers have basically destroyed every team in their path. Since Atlanta last won a game, Carolina has won in Seattle by three, beat Green Bay by eight, and put up double digit wins on four of the league’s more mediocre teams. You would think this line would be closer to the Kansas City-San Diego 10-point spread. I’m thinking Vegas knows people want to bet on a Panthers loss or close game before we get to 16-0. Maybe that’s why they’re treating this like a game where the opponent can keep it close?

New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-4)

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 26, New Orleans 18

I get why the spread has to be more than a field goal with the perception everyone must have of these two teams. The Bucs are on the rise, playing inspired football and showing lots of momentum. The Saints are on life support and the Payton/Brees era might be officially dead. Oh, and their starting running back and best cornerback are out for this game. You know what? This paragraph was heading towards me saying, “But I don’t think Tampa should be favored by more than three over anyone,” but instead I’m realizing that the Bucs truly are a lot better than the Saints. And the Saints just played their hearts out in their version of the Super Bowl last week in that close loss to Carolina. They’re dead.

Oakland at Denver (-7.5)

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Denver 20, Oakland 19

I think the Raiders are one of the best 10 teams in football, and I think the Broncos are barely better than them. Oakland plays teams pretty close even when they lose, unless they’re facing one of the two or three best teams. I also can’t get over the fact that the “new & improved Broncos” only put up 17 points against San Diego’s terrible defense last week. I don’t think Denver’s winning this by more than a touchdown.

Dallas at Green Bay (-7)

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 30, Dallas 9

The Packers haven’t played a good game in Lambeau since mid-October, and they’re coming off 10 days of rest. The Cowboys haven’t played a good game this year when someone other than Tony Romo starts at quarterback, and that includes Monday night’s lucky win in Washington. They happen to be on short rest and traveling to Lambeau where the home team is absolutely due. Look out.

New England (-3) at Houston

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 19, New England 15

[channels Bart Simpson writing on the chalkboard]

I will not pick a Gronk-less Patriots.

I will not pick a Gronk-less Patriots.

I will not pick a Gronk-less Patriots.

I will not pick a Gronk-less Patriots.

I will not pick a Gronk-less Patriots.

I will not pick a Gronk-less Patriots.

New York Giants (-1.5) at Miami

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 28, Miami 20

If the Giants can just find a way to not be winning towards the end of the game, I think they’ll have a real chance to win this one.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 10 Favorites, 5 Underdogs, 1 PICK
  • 1 Home Dog, 4 Road Dogs
  • 8 Home Teams, 8 Road Teams
  • Season Record: 93-92-1 (8-8 in week 13)

Enjoy week 14.

Week 13 NFL Picks: Dream Playoff Scenarios

 

eagles

The NFL may never achieve parity in the true sense of the word because a couple teams will always find a way to lap the field and get to 12 or 13 wins in a season. Just like there will probably always be a couple teams that can’t muster up enough competence to win more than three games across a 16-game schedule. But 2015 looks to be a showcase of the closest possible thing to the entire league scratching and clawing just to reach that key nine or 10 win benchmark.

As it stands right now, only four teams fall into the “no chance in hell” category for reaching the postseason That means 88% of the NFL still thinks it has a chance. (I actually think there are five teams with no shot because I’m including the Cowboys, who aren’t mathematically eliminated yet but have to rely on Matt Cassel guiding them to a 5-0 record in December.)

This could play out one of two ways. Either it stays extremely bunched up among a dozen or so teams through week 17, or a couple teams rattle off some wins over the next 21 days that make the final two weeks anticlimactic. With the way things have gone so far and the apparent lack of talent across the league, I’m guessing things stay really tight in this final month.

What’s nice is that we can all daydream about the perfect combination of 12 teams in the playoffs. And we have 28 options to choose from!

For my money, I like a nice balance in the postseason. I need a handful of solid teams with great offenses and good coaching, and I need teams with awful coaching and/or laughable QB situations. I don’t want all 12 teams to have a ton of flaws because then the playoffs would become an unwatchable circus act. I always want a chance that two well-coached teams with actual talent matchup and we get a “game for the ages.” But of course I still require plenty of unintentional comedy.

I’m beyond happy to report that it looks like we’re heading for an amazing playoff bracket if we’re basing things on my criteria.

Consider the following:

  • New England (#1 in the AFC) and Arizona (#2 in the NFC) are both heading for 1st round byes. Both teams have great head coaches and top-of-the-league offenses led by Pro Bowl quarterbacks. That right there makes a solid dent in our “competent and exciting teams” quota. There’s not a more exciting possible Super Bowl matchup out there (assuming Gronk, Edelman, etc return for the Patriots’ offense in time).
  • The AFC is looking to spoil us this year because we could get these teams in the playoffs: Cincinnati (awesome offense, but a terrible head coach and meltdown machine QB), Kansas City (good offense, but a clock management disaster at head coach), Houston (some J.J. Watt excitement but more importantly Brian Hoyer at QB!), Pittsburgh (tantalizing offense, but a sneaky awful head coach).
  • Was that not enough for you? Well, we’re probably getting the Broncos in January, and that’s going to feature either Brock Osweiler making his first career playoff start or the corpse of Peyton Manning breaking Twitter for the second straight year.
  • And we have a very low chance of seeing teams like the Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick in the playoffs!), Jacksonville (Blake Bortles!) and Baltimore (Matt effing Schaub!!) in the postseason.
  • The NFC just can’t match up with the AFC in terms of comedy, but there are some decent options. While Carolina and Seattle are both probably too competent to do anything but provide us with solid football, Green Bay fills the role of potentially good offense and definitely pathetic coaching.
  • Whatever dumpster fire comes out of the NFC East is almost guaranteed to feature the bad coaching & bad QB combo platter. Imagine Sam Bradford & Chip Kelly in the playoffs? Please let this happen!
  • And if we dig deep in the NFC, there’s still a chance that the Rams (bad QB/coach combo), the Bears (Jay Cutler!) and the Lions (Jim Caldwell’s wax figure on the sidelines!) break into the playoffs.

I may be getting a little ahead of myself since a lot of these teams will almost certainly drop some games in the coming weeks and see themselves out of the playoff picture. But this clusterfuck of mediocrity is really making my imagination run wild.

Let’s dive into week 13 and see if anyone can start to create some separation.

Green Bay (-3) at Detroit

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 20, Green Bay 13

As if the Thursday night games aren’t enigmatic enough to begin with, the NFL gives us two teams this week that we simply have no clue about anymore. Consider this: The Packers won their first five games of the season and have gone 2-4 since. The Lions lost their first five games of the season and have gone 4-2 since. Sure, the Packers still have the contender pedigree mostly due to Aaron Rodgers, but Detroit beat this team in Green Bay just three weeks ago. What the hell are we supposed to do here?

I see a scenario where the Packers win by three, but I see a more realistic scenario where they lose, and we all feel dumb for not realizing that Vegas inflated this line in favor of Green Bay because the public’s hard-on for them is reaching “consult your doctor” levels of dangerous.

By the way, if Green Bay loses this, they may need to win three of their final four games just to sneak into a Wildcard spot. They finish with: Dallas, at Oakland, at Arizona, Minnesota.

NY Jets (-2) at NY Giants

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 30, NY Giants 25

Ahh, New Jersey’s finest, doing battle with each other in the stadium they share. How exciting. Neither team has really been any fun to watch this year, but this game is actually important for both the AFC & NFC playoff pictures. In this new, unimproved, crappy NFL, the Jets & Giants represent top 7 teams in their respective conferences. So we’re forced to put this in the “good games” category for week 13.

This is my StayAway Game of the Week because the Jets are starting to look like a shell of their former selves on defense (Darrelle Revis will miss this game), and the Giants are the most impossible team to predict. That might have something to do with their quarterback being the most unpredictable of anyone at his position in the entire league. As soon as you think you’ve got Eli Manning figured out, he throws a handful of awful interceptions against Washington’s 24th-ranked defense. I’m reluctantly taking the Jets because they have faced better competition throughout the year, and assuming they still have a good pass rush, that might give the Giants’ beat up offensive line some problems.

Arizona (-6) at St. Louis

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 33, St. Louis 13

Listen, Bruce Arians can take my advice or leave it. I guess you can argue he’s gotten pretty far in life without listening to geniuses like me, but this time he might want to take me seriously. The Edward Jones Dome has already claimed victims in Josh McCown and Reggie Bush this year, and the Rams have repeatedly gotten accused of being a dirty team (every year it seems like they have that title). Why not sit Carson Palmer for this game? The Cardinals aren’t catching the Panthers for the #1 seed, and they get to host Minnesota in week 14. The Vikings are the only team threatening them for the #2 seed. Just forfeit this game, keep your awesome offense healthy, and lock up the 1st round bye next week.

OK so assuming Arians ignores me, what’s going to happen in this game? Initially I wanted to stay far away from the Cardinals because the Rams, for as awful as they’ve been this year, are 3-0 against division opponents. That includes a win in Arizona in week 4. So there’s something to be said about this team playing very tough within the division and then being horrible against the rest of the league. But I’m not biting on that. I trust Arians a million times more than Jeff Fisher, and I think the Cardinals will adjust from that loss back in October. Six points on the road is still a lot for Arizona, but I think the Rams are done and they know it.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-1.5)

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 23, Atlanta 17

Ummmmm…this line could have been Tampa Bay -6.5 and I probably would have picked them.

Interesting side note: This is already the third rematch in my picks from a game played earlier this year, and in all of them the home team this week won on the road. It’s not a meaningful stat, just an interesting fact.

Seattle at Minnesota (PICK)

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 21, Seattle 18

The advanced stats (the efficiency rankings on FootballOutsiders.com, for example) say Minnesota is worse than their 8-3 record while Seattle is better than its 6-5 record. But every year it feels like there’s one team that keeps defying the advanced stats, and I always lose money by repeatedly betting against that team, waiting for it to regress. Minnesota is that team in 2015.

The Seahawks have been garbage on the road this year, and don’t forget they lost Jimmy Graham last week. I’m a little nervous that Minnesota’s 23rd-ranked run defense is going to screw this pick up, but the Vikings should be favored by 3 and they’re not. That’s enough for me.

San Francisco at Chicago (-7.5)

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 54, San Francisco 10

The 49ers are 0-5 on the road and have been outscored by an average of 21 points in those games.

What? You’re still waiting for more info before running to your local bookie? Idiot. Go! Run! Before he changes his mind and makes this 7.5 or 8 points in favor of the Bears. (Damnit! Between Wednesday night when I originally wrote this paragraph and Thursday afternoon when I posted this column, my bookie did indeed bump this line up to 7.5. That makes it a tiny bit less attractive now.)

Yes, it’s true that Chicago’s only 1-4 at home, but those games were against: Green Bay, Arizona, Oakland, Minnesota and Denver. The only thing San Francisco has in common with those teams is that they play in the National Football League. No one will fault you for dumping your life savings on the Bears.

Jacksonville at Tennessee (-2.5)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 22, Tennessee 16

The Titans are 2-18 in their last 20 home games. I can’t believe that’s a real thing. It’s not like they’ve had to face a rotation of the Patriots, Broncos, Seahawks and Packers at home over the last three years. They regularly get to face shitty teams like Jacksonville, Houston and Indy. Even Browns fans can feel sorry for Titans fans.

Normally I’d be concerned that the Jaguars coaching staff is going to allow Blake Bortles to throw the ball too much, which usually leads to a loss, but the 2nd-year QB’s antics last week when he twice threw a pass after crossing the line of scrimmage probably helped convince Gus Bradley and company to take the ball out of his hands when possible. This is a game where T.J. Yeldon should get 30 carries. I hope the Jags agree with me.

Houston at Buffalo (-3)

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 20, Houston 14

Flip a coin, I guess? As good as the Texans have been playing, the Bills are lightyears ahead of them on offense and special teams. We all talk about Jeff Fisher being the master of the .500 season, but if that’s true, I think Rex Ryan is the apprentice who’s ready to take over for the aging master. Rex will get his team to seven, eight or nine wins, almost every time. This win will get him back on track.

Baltimore at Miami (-4)

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 22, Miami 20

Ravens fans were dreaming of the #1 pick in the 2016 Draft as recently as two weeks ago. After Matt Schaub leads them to their 3rd straight win, this time against the useless Dolphins, those same fans will have to at least half-assedly root for an improbable playoff berth. My brain just melted a little from typing the words “Matt Schaub” and “playoff berth” in the same sentence.

Cincinnati (-9.5) at Cleveland

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 24, Cincinnati 19

The Bengals haven’t looked quite as dominant on the road this year, and this line is ripe for a backdoor cover from the Browns. And there are three more factors at play here that have me picking the Browns to win outright.

  1. The line moved from 7.5 to 9.5 when it was announced Austin Davis would be Cleveland’s starting QB. Naturally the public is going to be even more against Cleveland when it’s Davis starting and not McCown or Johnny Manziel. But the public is dumb, and Davis could be this team’s best QB. I like the free points.
  2. The Bengals and Marvin Lewis are your classic “looking ahead to next week” team. Next week features an important showdown with the Steelers. This week screams TRAP GAME to me.
  3. And this is the most important factor of all. The Browns are closing in on either the 1st or 2nd overall pick in next year’s draft. Wouldn’t it be so Cleveland of them to win some improbable games late in the season to tumble in the draft pick order? Yes, it would.

Kansas City (-3) at Oakland

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 37, Oakland 27

Of all the preseason predictions I made on this site, the one that’s been haunting me the most is my Super Bowl prediction: Kansas City 30, Dallas 20. Ouch. That has looked bad pretty much from the start. But now the Chiefs are at least semi-vindicating me. I’m not saying they’re even a lock for the playoffs, but they’re on a roll, and even the stat nerds think they’re one of the best teams in the league.

I still think they’ll falter if they make it to the postseason, either because Andy Reid will get easily confused, or because some opponent will build a 17-0 lead on them and Alex Smith will struggle to guide that offense to a big comeback. But for the time being, it’s impossible to pick against them

Denver (-4.5) at San Diego

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 28, Denver 0

Fuck Denver. The sooner they lose a winnable game (and they will), the sooner the Patriots can lock up the #1 seed in the AFC, ensuring New England gets to host the Broncos in January. We’ll see who’s soft when Brock Osweiler goes to Foxboro for the first time. Did I mention Fuck Denver yet?

Philadelphia at New England (-9.5)

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 31, Philadelphia 16

With offensive weapons dropping like flies for the Patriots, I was a little gun shy at first to take them as such a large favorite. But what it really comes down to for me is the return of at least one of New England’s star linebackers. With both Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower practicing this week, I think we’re going to be OK there. That means no effective run game from Philly. While I think the Patriots offense gets back on track a little bit (home game + Danny Amendola’s return + Philly’s recent woes against bad offenses), the defense can easily carry this one and ensure we don’t see the dreaded backdoor cover.

Carolina (-7) at New Orleans

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 40, New Orleans 16

Eight of Carolina’s 11 wins have come by seven points or more. It doesn’t matter if they’re at home or on the road, facing a good team or a bad team…it’s been blowout after blowout. And we’re talking about the Saints, a team ahead of only San Francisco and Cleveland in terms of overall efficiency. I think seven is also a good number to set the over/under at for how many interceptions Drew Brees will throw in this game. I can’t imagine a situation where this goes well for New Orleans.

Indianapolis at Pittsburgh (-7)

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 39, Indianapolis 24

Remember when Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns at home against the Colts in week 8 last year? That probably won’t happen again, if only because Roethlisberger has gone down with a new injury almost every week this season. You figure if the Steelers build a lead, they probably don’t want him dropping back unnecessarily. But it’s easy to picture them building that big lead and then attacking Indy’s one-dimensional offense. Make no mistake about it, the Colts cannot run the ball. Matt Hasselbeck throwing is their only option. Even though the Steelers are suspect against the deep passes, I can’t see this strategy surprising them. They give up some points, but they score an awful lot more.

Dallas at Washington (-4.5)

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 15, Washington 11

I was desperately trying to find a reason to take Dallas in this game. I built a decent argument around the fact that they only lost to Tampa Bay by four points in a game Matt Cassel started, and they also lost to Seattle by just one point in another Cassel start. Both of those offenses are better than Washington’s. But this argument just didn’t feel strong enough.

Then one of my friends who’s a Washington fan mentioned the referees’ repeated incompetence on Monday Night Football this year. There it is! If the NFL is WWE-ing up this league like we think they are, wouldn’t they desperately want the Cowboys to remain in the playoff conversation? Dallas is one of their most marketable and polarizing teams. This makes perfect sense in the Goodell Era. Lock it up. Dallas pulls off the upset with some obvious assistance from the refs. Damn, it feels good to be able to see into the future.

One word of caution to everyone out there: There are a lot of “good teams” favored by six points or more in matchups against “bad teams” this week. There’s no way all of them are going to cover. Between Cincinnati, Carolina, Arizona, New England and Pittsburgh, at least one (probably two) aren’t covering. But it’s impossible to feel great about any of the underdogs in those games. I suggest staying away from almost everything this week in terms of straight bets, parlays and teasers.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 9 Favorites, 6 Underdogs, 1 PICK
  • 3 Home Dogs, 3 Road Dogs
  • 9 Home Teams, 7 Road Teams
  • Season Record: 85-84-1 (6-10 in week 12)

Enjoy week 13.

Week 12 NFL Picks in 140 Characters or Less

turkey

I’m no different than the rest of you when it comes to giving thanks during this holiday season. I have an awful lot in life to be grateful for, and I try never to take any of it for granted. But during this Thanksgiving weekend, which really just exists to allow football fans to watch even more games, I’m going to focus that gratitude on my discretionary income (which I learned through google is the correct term for what I used to call “disposable income”). Basically, it’s all the extra money I have after paying my monthly bills and child support. It’s money that should probably be going to good causes, or perhaps a savings account for the future. But instead, it’s all tied up in football futures.

So on this Thanksgiving week, I am truly thankful for all the preseason and midseason bets I made. Most of them will lose–badly–but I’m thankful to have the money to flush down the toilet on my uneducated predictions. Here’s a review of those bets:

Green Bay Packers to win Super Bowl (bet placed on February 2nd)

  • Odds I got: 8/1
  • Current Odds: 8/1

Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl (Feb 2nd)

  • Odds I got: 40/1
  • Current Odds: 66/1

New York Giants to win Super Bowl (Feb 2nd)

  • Odds I got: 40/1
  • Current Odds: 14/1

Houston Texans to win Super Bowl (Feb 2nd)

  • Odds I got: 40/1
  • Current Odds: 66/1

Baltimore Ravens to win Super Bowl (Feb 2nd)

  • Odds I got: 33/1
  • Current Odds: 500/1

I placed these five bets the day after the Patriots won last year’s Super Bowl, and as it turns out, only the Giants bet was a good one. Sure, the Packers are still in fine shape, but I could get those same exact odds today. So there wasn’t really any value in that bet. Obviously I whiffed majorly on Baltimore, Houston and (kind of) Atlanta. The comforting thing is that there’s still a decent chance the 3 NFC teams in these bets all make the playoffs. Having half of that conference’s playoff entries on bets I made almost a year before these playoffs start would make me feel pretty smart.

Kansas City Chiefs to win AFC West (bet placed on August 20th)

  • Odds I got: +325
  • Current Odds: +500

Dallas Cowboys to win NFC East (Aug 20th)

  • Odds I got: +140
  • Current Odds: +300

Atlanta Falcons to win NFC South (Aug 20th)

  • Odds I got: 2/1
  • Current Odds: 16/1

These division winner bets look even worse than my Super Bowl picks. Every one of my choices has become a longer shot than when I bet it. The Falcons are four games behind Carolina but still face them twice. Basically, Cam Newton would have to get bludgeoned to death by an angry mom from the “anti-dancing movement,” and even that might not be enough. The Chiefs are three games behind Peyton Manning’s former team, but they have an easy schedule while the Broncos try to figure out if they have any qualified QBs on the roster. There’s a glimmer of hope in the West for me. And only by way of division-wide incompetence are the Cowboys still alive. I’m writing this off as a loss because they’ll essentially have to go undefeated the rest of the way.

Atlanta Falcons over 8.5 wins (bet placed on September 11th)

Kansas City Chiefs over 8.5 wins (Sept 11th)

Minnesota Vikings under 7.5 wins (Sept 11th)

New York Giants over 8.5 wins (Sept 11th)

St. Louis Rams over 8 wins (Sept 11th)

Wow. I am not going to have an easy time winning any of those. They’re all still in play, at least. So that’s nice. But the Vikings only need to win one more game for that bet to be a loss. The Rams, Giants and Chiefs each need to finish 4-2 for me to win any of those bets (in the case of the Rams, 4-2 would get me the push, which I will GLADLY take at this point). And how about the fucking Falcons? After September, I thought I was going to waltz to a win on that bet, but now they’ve lost four of their last five and need to go 3-3 the rest of the way for me to collect. I just don’t see that happening. What a waste.

Will any team go 16-0 in the regular season? (Sept 11th)

  • Odds I got: 25/1
  • Current Odds: 5/2

Will any team go 0-16 in the regular season? (Sept 11th)

  • Odds I got: 20/1

The 0-16 bet was done way back in week 6, when Detroit became the final team to win its 1st game of the year. But the 16-0 bet? WooHoo! Still alive! And not just with one team, but with two! No, I honestly don’t think either the Panthers or Patriots are going undefeated, but I’m just happy this bet is still active this late in the year. I will be betting both props (16-0 and 0-16) each year for the rest of eternity. It’s too much fun not to.

Tennessee Titans to win the AFC South (bet placed on September 28th)

  • Odds I got: 17/2
  • Current Odds: 50/1

Whoops.

Arizona Cardinals to win Super Bowl (bet placed on October 12th)

  • Odds I got: 18/1
  • Current Odds: 5/1

Nice work, Ross! Great value there as Arizona will likely be one of the top two favorites in the NFC the rest of the way (barring the inevitable Carson Palmer injury).

St. Louis Rams to win NFC West (bet placed on November 7th)

  • Odds I got: 5/1
  • Current Odds: 25/1

What the fuck is wrong with me? Seriously. In my defense, the Rams were 4-3 and coming off back-to-back wins while the Cardinals were 6-2 and Seattle was 4-4. Lesson learned. Jeff Fisher is the worst.

So it’s like I said in the second paragraph of this column…I’m just happy to have the extra cash to flush straight down the NFL gambling toilet.

At least the weekly picks against the spread are going reasonably well for me. Every year I try to remind myself that I’m OK at making predictions while the season is underway, but I’m horrible at preseason guesses. And every year I still make all those bets in August.

Let’s get into the week 12 picks. Since it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and most of you have a miniscule attention span to begin with, my comments will be limited to the size we can all enjoy in this day & age: 140 characters or less. Here we go.

Philadelphia at Detroit (-1)

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 23, Philadelphia 17

In a battle of 2 dumpster fire teams led by soon-to-be-fired coaches, I’m going with the home team that’s shown a pulse of late.

Carolina (-1) at Dallas

The Pick: Carolina

The Score:Carolina 36, Dallas 16

Way too many people are predicting this as the Panthers’ first loss. For that reason, I’m positive it won’t be. Total disrespect by Vegas.

Chicago at Green Bay (-9)

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 26, Chicago 12

A single win by the Packers in the last month will get the majority of the public to back them. Count me among the public.

St. Louis at Cincinnati (-9)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 33, St. Louis 17

The bottom’s about to fall out on this Rams team. The Bengals played mostly awesome in Arizona last week. This game will be so much easier.

Oakland (-2) at Tennessee

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 20, Oakland 17

StayAway Game of the Week. Taking the home team that had 10 days rest over the West Coast team playing back-to-back road games in the East.

NY Giants (-3) at Washington

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 29, Washington 23

If I know for a fact that the refs are out to get Washington, why would I ever pick them? Eli on the road does make me nervous though.

Minnesota at Atlanta (-2)

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 24, Atlanta 22

Atlanta hasn’t beaten a team outside the NFC East and AFC South. Minnesota has. Not convinced the Vikings will win easily, but they’ll win.

Buffalo at Kansas City (-5.5)

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 19, Buffalo 12

Big game for 2 Wildcard hopefuls who have very similar stats. Normally you take the points, but the Bills got real banged up in New England.

New Orleans at Houston (-3)

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 27, Houston 21

Houston is 0-5 when giving up more than 20 points. The Saints are 4-2 when scoring 20 or more. I think the rested Saints will score plenty.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis (-3)

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 24, Indianapolis 20

The Bucs hand Hasselbeck his 1st loss because they are solid, haven’t played a bad game in a while and have real weapons on offense.

Miami at NY Jets (-3.5)

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 21, NY Jets 18

You won’t see me picking the Jets when they’re favored by more than a field goal against anyone the rest of the season.

San Diego at Jacksonville (-4)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 20, San Diego 13

I’m fully prepared for the Jags to screw this up. But it’s hard to see San Diego getting motivated for a cross country game at this point.

Arizona (-10.5) at San Francisco

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 37, San Francisco 14

The Cardinals are 4-1 on the road including dominating wins at Cleveland, Detroit & Chicago. The 49ers fit right in with those teams.

Pittsburgh at Seattle (-4)

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 26, Seattle 17

Not biting on Seattle. Pittsburgh has lost 4 games: 2 when Roethlisberger was out, 2 against the Patriots & Bengals. They are solid.

New England (-3) at Denver

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 3, Denver 0

Two awesome defenses and two offenses hurting BAD. I’m not sure we’ll see a single touchdown on Sunday night.

Baltimore at Cleveland (-3)

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 15, Cleveland 12

Matt Schaub is awful, but it appears the entire city of Cleveland was built on an ancient Indian burial ground. I’m not messing with that.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 9 Favorites, 7 Underdogs
  • 1 Home Dog, 6 Road Dogs
  • 6 Home Teams, 10 Road Teams
  • Season Record: 79-74-1 (5-8-1 in week 11)

Enjoy week 12. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. And enjoy your Uncle Bobby’s take on Syrian Refugees!

Week 11 NFL Picks: Why Every Matchup Sucks

titans jags

How’s everyone doing after week 10? Still hanging in there? Still alive? Alive but spent the past five days selling off most of your possessions to pay your gambling debts? If you took a bath on bets or picks last week, don’t be too hard on yourself. Here’s what happened in a nutshell:

RJ Bell tweet

That probably won’t be happening again so feel free to go back to your tried & true method of picking all the favorites.

One other tweet popped up on my feed earlier today that seems relevant to share with the world:

Schefter tweet

And when the Bills lose to New England on Monday night, it’ll be down to 10 teams with a winning record.

That stat is amazing and it tells you two important things about the season so far:

  1. We have been watching a lot of bad football games played between a lot of below average teams. We weren’t just imagining that.
  2. At this moment, 23 of 32 teams still believe they have a shot to make the playoffs. That means 72% of the league thinks they’ll be part of the 38% that plays meaningful January football. If you disagree with that number, just check out ESPN.com’s NFL standings page and try to tell me which teams don’t have a shot besides these ones: Cleveland, San Diego, Baltimore, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Tampa Bay.

In theory this should make for exciting football over these final seven weeks of the regular season, but in reality, it means we have “playoff implication matchups” like tonight’s game featuring the Titans, who could be just one game out of 1st place at 3-7 if they win, and the Jaguars, who will probably be tied for 1st place if they win. So yeah, tonight’s “big game” represents the state of football in 2015 extremely well.

Ready for the week 11 picks? OK, fine, one more tweet from the last few days that excited me:

Siciliano tweet

And Andrew Siciliano is actually wrong by one because sometime after that tweet, Houston announced that T.J. Yates would be starting in place of the concussed Brian Hoyer. So we have 48 different starting QBs through 11 weeks of football! Another reason why there’s a historic clusterfuck in the standings.

Let’s make some picks.

Tennessee at Jacksonville (-3)

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 20, Jacksonville 9

The Jaguars haven’t won two games in a row during the Blake Bortles era (including preseason!). Are we to believe that the time is now for that miniscule accomplishment? Something makes me extremely nervous backing Jacksonville on short rest coming off such an emotional (discredited) win in Baltimore.

Even though the score doesn’t reflect it, the Titans actually hung with the Panthers for about 3 ½ quarters last week. Call me crazy, but I think the Titans end any talk about the Jaguars making the playoffs before it really even gets started.

Oakland (-1.5) at Detroit

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 27, Oakland 20

What normally happens with a team like the Raiders is this: Everyone sees a potential Wildcard team and starts to look at the rest of their schedule to see how they might get to 9 or 10 wins. You’ll see things written about how Oakland’s home game against Kansas City on December 6th followed by a road game at Denver on December 13th is the key two-game stretch that’ll make or break their season. But then they go out and lose back-to-back road games to the lowly Lions and Titans. It’s just the way it works.

Indianapolis at Atlanta (-6)

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Atlanta 26, Indianapolis 23

In case you’re wondering why I still mention my Survivor Pool pick every now and then, it’s because I am indeed still standing after 10 crazy weeks. There are four of us still playing.*

All week long I’ve been eyeing the Falcons because I’m down to very few attractive options. I even started polling some of the people whose opinion I’m most confident in when it comes to this stuff. I gave them three options: Atlanta, Kansas City or Denver. And all but one person said they’d go with Atlanta first, then Kansas City and then Denver. The person who disagreed with that line of thinking had the Chiefs first and then the Falcons.

But I just can’t do it. I’m not putting my fate in the very shaky hands of Dan Quinn and the Falcons. In a best case scenario, they’d make me sweat it out and possibly win by three. I don’t need that aggravation. You’ll see who I chose later on in this column.

*I feel like I need to tell you that all 18 entrants into my Survivor Pool picked incorrectly in week 2. That means we were all allowed to advance to week 3 since there was no winner. So even if I somehow win this pool, don’t ever let me brag too much about surviving for 11+ weeks. I didn’t actually get through it unscathed.

St. Louis at Baltimore (-3)

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 24, St. Louis 14

You know what I discovered when I looked closely at the Rams? They’re a pretty mediocre team that is getting A TON of mileage and goodwill from their early season wins vs Seattle and Arizona. But since then, their only wins are home games against Cleveland and San Francisco, quite simply the two worst teams in football.

Regarding last week’s Ravens game:

  1. If this was any other team in the NFL (except for the Colts), I’d be feeling a little bit bad for Baltimore and its fans. Just when you think the late-game luck couldn’t get any worse, they lose yet another game at the last second to the lowly Jaguars, and this time it was a complete screwjob by the refs. The NFL confirmed what anyone who saw the second-to-last play of the game should have already known: Jacksonville never got set before snapping the ball with time running out. The Ravens actually won the game.
  2. But here’s the thing. Ravens fans probably didn’t want their team to win this game. At 2-7 Baltimore is tied with five other teams for the fewest wins in the league. Who would have thought Baltimore at Cleveland in two Mondays could be such a big game? It might end up deciding the 1st overall pick in the 2016 Draft!

I actually don’t think the Ravens will be involved in the top of the draft because they’ve really been unlucky all year and will probably win a couple games down the stretch. But I bet Baltimore fans are daydreaming about Ozzie Newsome flipping the 1st overall pick to a desperate team for a king’s ransom.

Oh, and Baltimore wins this game because they are a million times better than everyone thinks and the Rams are probably worse than most people think.

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia (-6)

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Philadelphia 16, Tampa Bay 13

Damn, Vegas, make it easier on me why don’t you! What we’re going to see in this game, most likely, is a bit of a defensive battle. Traditionally, those don’t end up with one team winning by a touchdown or more.

At a quick glance, these two teams seem identical, right down to their matching 4-5 records. The Eagles definitely have a big edge on defense (I still can’t understand how they rate out at #2 in the league according to FootballOutsiders.com’s efficiency metrics), but the Bucs are starting to look like a decent 7-9 or 8-8 team.

Denver at Chicago (-1.5)

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 27, Chicago 17

So this line opened at Denver -3 and has swung all the way to the Bears being 1.5-point favorites. This must be because Brock Osweiler is starting in place of Peyton Manning. But I don’t get that at all. Why would a healthy Osweiler inspire less confidence than a rotting corpse version of the best regular season quarterback in NFL history? Maybe Osweiler isn’t a future Pro Bowler, but just the fact that teams have to assume he can throw the ball farther than 7 yards down field and faster than 20MPH makes the Broncos offense immediately more dangerous.

If you think about this matchup for a couple seconds—I mean really think about it—then there’s no other conclusion except that the Broncos win. They won seven in a row to start the year DESPITE PEYTON MANNING’S OFFENSE BEING THE STATISTICALLY WORST UNIT IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE! That defense hasn’t changed. The coaching hasn’t changed. The receivers are all the same. And the quarterback position HAS IMPROVED. C’mon. Give me something challenging for once.

And yes, I am riding with Denver as my Survivor Pool pick. I’m shunning the opportunity to take the 6-3 Falcons at home or the Chiefs going up against the 2-7 Chargers. I believe this Denver/Chicago line is one of the craziest, most nonsensical things I have ever seen in my gambling career.

NY Jets (-2.5) at Houston

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 20, Houston 3

This feels a little bit like a “get back on track” game for the Jets. They’ve lost three out of four, with their only win since October 18th coming at home by five points over Jacksonville. Ryan Fitzpatrick had that minor thumb surgery last week and should be good to go for this game. They’re still 5-4 and in position to make a Wildcard push. This is a very winnable game against a Houston team that surprised us all with a win in Monday night’s 10-6 “thriller” in Cincinnati. Even in their wins, the Texans look pretty bad. As long as Darrelle Revis can keep DeAndre Hopkins from having a huge day, the Jets should be good. I know Revis is no Malcolm Butler, but he should be able to get the job done.

Washington at Carolina (-7.5)

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Carolina 27, Washington 21

Whenever a division is in shambles and it looks like an 8-8 record might take the title, I always root for the most surprising team to win. For example, GO TITANS!

In the NFC East, that would be the Redskins. If Washington wins while the Giants are on their bye, both teams would be 5-5 going into their head-to-head matchup in D.C. in week 12 (Philly would also be 5-5 if they win this week).

But that’s probably not going to happen because the Panthers are undefeated, playing at home and are just about as good as we think they are. To me that means they will beat Washington, but not by more than a touchdown. I feel like I’m on repeat here regarding the Panthers, but they simply aren’t a team that blows out any decent competition.

Dallas (-1) at Miami

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 31, Dallas 23

If you’re looking for the Stayaway Game Of The Week, this is it. The Cowboys have been atrocious the entire season, but of course their most important player, Tony Romo, has been missing during their current seven game losing streak. The consensus is that Romo should be seen as even more of a valuable player than he has been in the past because look how bad the Cowboys do without him. But that’s just a weak excuse for a team that’s underperformed across the board. Plenty of teams have won plenty of games when their MVP-caliber QB has been hit with an injury. So I’ve come around from my earlier thoughts that Dallas is just unlucky and still very talented. I think they’re somehow still overrated at 2-7!

So give me the Dolphins with very, very little confidence.

Kansas City (-3) at San Diego

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: Kansas City 33, San Diego 31

This seems pretty simple. The Chargers are really awful, and most people agree they don’t even have a home field advantage. Meanwhile, the Chiefs look like they’re rounding into playoff form at the right time.

But let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. Regarding Kansas City’s “resurgence,” their current three game winning streak was: Home against the Landry Jones version of the Steelers, in London against the Lions and at Denver last week, when Peyton Manning’s corpse was finally benched. Not exactly a who’s who of opponents playing at a high caliber.

And on the San Diego side…look, if I’m going to state each and every week that the Ravens have been unlucky, I have to do the same with the Chargers. Six of their seven losses have been by eight points or less! They’re the West Coast Ravens. The way San Diego conducts business is they get into these crazy shootouts with the opponent and always come up just short. Let’s hope they have another one of those in them this week…a two-point loss seems appropriate.

Green Bay at Minnesota (PICK)

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 21, Green Bay 20

I’m just going to leave this article about Adrian Peterson, which includes some info on how he has torn up the Packers in the past, right HERE.

And I’m also just going to leave this article about Aaron Rodgers hitting the injury report this week right HERE.

San Francisco at Seattle (-13)

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: Seattle 12, San Francisco 0

No. Just…no, OK? Why would I even consider laying 13 points with the 4-5 Seahawks? Because Blaine Gabbert and the terrible 49ers are coming to town? Newsflash, the Seahawks are a mediocre team…at best! Sure, you can almost guarantee they’ll win this game, but by two touchdowns? Gross. No thanks. I’m not buying it.

Cincinnati at Arizona (-5)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 25, Arizona 23

Let’s look at where Footballoutsiders.com has these two teams ranked in a few categories:

  • Offensive Efficiency: Cincinnati 2nd, Arizona 3rd
  • Defensive Efficiency: Cincinnati 8th, Arizona 6th
  • Special Teams Efficiency: Cincinnati 10th, Arizona 14th
  • Overall Efficiency: Cincinnati 3rd, Arizona 2nd

Pretty similar, right?

How about the four common opponents that these two teams have faced so far in 2015:

  • Baltimore: Cincinnati won 28-24, Arizona won 26-18
  • Seattle: Cincinnati won 27-24 in OT, Arizona won 39-32
  • Pittsburgh: Cincinnati won 16-10, Arizona lost 25-13
  • Cleveland: Cincinnati won 31-10, Arizona won 34-20

Outside of that slip-up by the Cardinals in Pittsburgh, again, we’re talking about two very similar teams.

So why is it a five-point spread and not the standard three points when the matchup is so even like this? Because the Bengals are coming off a very attention-grabbing loss on Monday Night Football at home against the Texans. And because there are now a bunch of idiots out there who think this means Andy Dalton is back to not being able to win in Primetime. Vegas knows they can still get a ton of action on Arizona at the current spread because of that perception.

As a smart bettor, my only choice is to take the Bengals. It should be your only choice too. You’re getting two free points out of it. And all we can do from here is hope the Red Ryder BB Gun doesn’t shit himself in the desert on Sunday night.

Buffalo at New England (-7.5)

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 34, Buffalo 17

This line should be Patriots by 9.5 or 10 points. Yes, even with a lineup that’s missing Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman and possibly Jamie Collins. The Patriots should be favored by double digits.

In their week 2 matchup, Tom Brady threw for over 450 yards on Buffalo’s defense. The Patriots only rushed for 56 yards. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the New England offense flips that gameplan on its head. We’ll see over 200 rushing yards and a much more conservative passing attack. But even if this weakened offense can’t march down the field as surgically as before, the defense is playing at a high enough level to really slow the Bills down. Maybe my prediction for 34 points will be way too high, but winning by more than a touchdown still seems easy in this case.

Ummmmmm, remember when I said at the beginning of this article that underdogs covering at a historic rate probably isn’t happening again? I probably need to be really, REALLY wrong about that if I’m going to have any success in week 11. Check out the weekly tally:

  • 3 Favorites, 10 Underdogs, 1 PICK
  • 3 Home Dogs, 7 Road Dogs
  • 6 Home Teams, 8 Road Teams
  • Season Record: 74-66-6 (9-5 in week 10)

Enjoy week 11.

Week 10 NFL Picks: Good Guys & Villains

williams

You know I hate to be the one to say something positive about the NFL, but it seriously looks like we’ve got a nice little season going on here. Just consider:

  • Halfway through the year, we have 3 undefeated teams. Since none of them face each other, New England, Cincinnati and Carolina could all go undefeated (but none of them will, of course). Intrigue!
  • Through 9 weeks, 12 games have gone to overtime. That’s one more than in all of 2011. Excitement!
  • The NFC is 20-16 vs the AFC this year, and according to both Footballoutsiders.com and the ESPN Power Rankings, it’s an even split between AFC and NFC teams at the top of the league. Balance!
  • We can ignore the rapid downfall of the 2012 quarterback draft class (RG3, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill) because we have the QBs from the 2014 and 2015 drafts: Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Maybe the position isn’t completely fucked in 5 years. Hope!
  • Even though the refs seem to be getting worse at making calls in real time and they’re often screwing things up even with the assistance of video review, we’ve all grown tired of getting up in arms at the next “what the fuck is a catch” controversy. So the officiating isn’t really derailing the season after all. Apathy!
  • And hey, if all else fails, at least this has been a harmless, injury-free season for all the players.

My 7-6 record against the spread last week broke a string of four straight weeks with a losing record. Let’s build on that momentum and dive right into the week 10 picks:

Buffalo at NY Jets (-3)

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 31, NY Jets 17

The “good guy overcomes all to defeat the bad guy” ending would be the Jets, with the help of a Geno Smith appearance, triumphing over their evil former coach and bad boy linebacker IK Enemkpali. Someone was finally able to turn the Jets into “the good guy”. Add that to Rex Ryan’s resume.

I thought these two teams were almost identical in terms of talent and roster makeup before the season, and my opinion basically hasn’t changed. If you look at who they’ve played and the results through nine weeks (see below), you can see just how similar they are.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.43.25 AM

It just seems fitting that Buffalo would win this game to draw even with the Jets. And don’t sleep on the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is scheduled for surgery immediately following this game & the Jets secondary might be in even worse shape injury-wise than their quarterbacks.

Detroit at Green Bay (-11.5)

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Green Bay 30, Detroit 20

Effing Vegas, am I right? How do they make everything such an impossible choice. There are two major factors at work here:

  1. In Detroit’s Favor: Look at this ridiculous Green Bay schedule. They are coming off back-to-back road losses from two of the most physical teams in football, and then they have another road game—a HUGE division-swinging battle in Minnesota—in a week. This game against Detroit is your classic “we’re too beat up to be fancy/let’s just get the win and get out of here” game.
  2. In Green Bay’s Favor: The Lions owner semi-cleaned house by firing the team President and the GM during the bye week. It’s been hard enough for Jim Caldwell and company to put a competent, prepared football team on the field each week without the distractions. I highly doubt this is going to help them on Sunday.

I think the Packers are going to win by precisely 10 points. If the line was 10 or less, I was going big on Green Bay. But I’m forced to take Detroit and cringe for three straight hours. Stupid, stupid pick.

Dallas at Tampa Bay (-1.5)

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 23, Dallas 15

I’m not picking against Dallas because of their horrible quarterback situation. With a fully healthy team, the Cowboys could win this game despite a horrible quarterback situation. I’m picking against them because Sean Lee will miss this game, and because Dez Bryant isn’t fully healthy yet. They need everything working if they’re looking to overcome the Romo absence.

Carolina (-6) at Tennessee

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 34, Tennessee 22

This is one of those “don’t overthink it” games, at least for me. Five of Carolina’s eight wins have been by a touchdown or more. This will complete their sweep of the AFC South, not really an accomplishment, but a chore they had to check off the ol’ to-do list.

Chicago at St. Louis (-7)

The Pick: St. Louis

The Score: St. Louis 24, Chicago 14

Ya know, I wanted to grab Chicago and the points, but the Rams recently beat the Browns by 18 (as 6-point favorites) and the 49ers by 21 (as 9-point favorites). This seems right up their alley.

Actually, this seems like a great time to check in on which team is making the best case to be crowned 2015 NFL Villain.

  • It was a no-brainer as far back as January that the Patriots would be more hated than the Yankees, Cowboys and Duke basketball all rolled up into one. But with them starting 8-0 and Tom Brady playing immaculate football, there isn’t much trash talking to do. It seems like everyone is simply resigned to the fact that New England is going to the Super Bowl.
  • The Cowboys are always a great backup so they gladly jumped into pole position for NFL Villain for a while. They’ve shown no remorse and even less self awareness as they went all-in on Greg Hardy. The “going out of their way to announce Hardy as a leader” was probably the breaking point for me. (bonus points for murdering some fantasy seasons between injuries to Dez Bryant and Romo)
  • But now the Rams are looming as a mini-Villain. They employ the guy most synonymous with Bountygate as their defensive coordinator. One of their defensive players ended Teddy Bridgewater’s day early last Sunday with a dirty hit to the quarterback’s head. And their home field would be the subject of a 24-hour special investigation on ESPN if it was the home field of the Patriots. We’ve had the random concrete slabs injure one of the game’s premier quarterbacks as well as a journeyman running back who is now suing the city of St. Louis. And let’s not forget about the field actually catching on fire earlier this season. A lot of people aren’t very happy with the Rams right now. I’m sure if they lay low just for a week or two, the Patriots will give everyone a reason to refocus their hate.

New Orleans (-1) at Washington

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 32, New Orleans 26

This line is preposterous if you’re thinking about it from a pure football standpoint. The Redskins are as good or better than the Saints. But Vegas must expect the public to give the Saints a little more respect than they deserve. I’m all over this. I think we might see more money roll in on the Saints and push this line higher. If I can get Washington at +3, it will easily be my favorite bet of the week.

Miami at Philadelphia (-7)

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 20, Philadelphia 17

I actually have no insight whatsoever for this game. I’m not sure what that says about these two teams, but I’ll just go with Philly not being nearly good enough to earn the 7-point favorite respect.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-5)

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 18

The Steelers were 4.5-point favorites against the Raiders last week. The Raiders are considerably better than the Browns. Of course, last week’s game had a healthy Ben Roethlisberger for Pittsburgh. But I think the Steeler offense is a little bit “QB proof” in that the talent of the receivers, the solid running game and the playcalling all setup for an easy day at the office for any competent quarterback. We know now that Michael Vick doesn’t qualify. But I think Landry Jones does.

The encouraging thing for the Steelers, even if the offense does stumble, is that they’ve been pretty decent on defense all year. They’re light years ahead of last season’s crappy D, and should hold up fine against the Browns.

Jacksonville at Baltimore (-6)

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 28, Jacksonville 20

This flies in the face of everything I stand for. Normally I’d be saying “the Ravens don’t deserve to be 6-point favorites over anyone.” But I’m giving them one last chance here. If ever there was a time for John Harbaugh and this team to gameplan their way to a convincing win, this would be it (coming off a bye, a non-threatening opponent coming to town). A good coach and a good QB would win this game by a touchdown, no problem.

Minnesota at Oakland (-3)

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 26, Minnesota 18

I bet everyone thinks the hard part of Minnesota’s schedule begins with Green Bay next week (followed by @Atlanta, Seattle and @Arizona). But it actually starts this week in Oakland.

What a lot of people are going to find out on Sunday is that the Raiders are legitimately good. They’ll probably fall just short of the playoffs this year. Back-to-back games against Denver and Green Bay in December will probably be their undoing. But they’re a ton of fun to watch, and they’re still flying a tiny bit under the radar for gambling purposes.

New England (-7.5) at NY Giants

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 35, NY Giants 20

On top of having terrible, awful, unbearable memories clouding my judgment on this matchup, the Giants are just a complete mindfuck. The Eli Offense can explode at any time, but it’s entirely unpredictable when.

And while it’s nerve wracking to see JPP return to the lineup just a week before the Pats game, AND knowing a very valuable player in Dion Lewis is out for New England, I just think the Patriots are still better in so many areas. Quarterback, running back, tight end, secondary, linebackers & defensive line, coaching. I’m afraid the steamroller keeps rolling.

Kansas City at Denver (-7)

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Denver 24, Kansas City 20

The Broncos have won by more than seven points only twice in eight games this year. They’re good, but that offense limits any blowout potential. And this feels like one of those hard fought, down-to-the-wire division games. If the Chiefs protect the ball like their offense is designed to do, that means they’re not giving the Broncos any defensive scoring chances or short fields for the Denver offense to work. Can the Broncos really win by more than a touchdown if they have to slowly march down the full length of the field all day? We haven’t seen them have to do that too often.

Arizona at Seattle (-3)

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 31, Seattle 30

At this point in the season, you’d expect the Seahawks to have some statement wins at home we could point to as evidence that they’ll probably dismantle the Cardinals. But they don’t. In three home games, they’ve blown out Chicago 26-0, snuck by Detroit 13-10 on a controversial call and lost 27-23 to the Panthers. The interesting thing with Seattle this year is they’ve only been able to beat the cupcakes on their schedule. Their four wins have come against: Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco and Dallas. Their four losses have been to: St. Louis, Green Bay, Cincinnati and Carolina.

That’s night and day right there. I don’t think it’s any sort of coincidence, just that the Seahawks aren’t very good. If they continue to beat the easy teams and lose to the hard ones, they’re looking at a 9-7 record. That actually feels right for them in 2015.

Houston at Cincinnati (-10.5)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 36, Houston 16

For those of you still dreaming about an improbable AFC South division crown for the Texans, a loss in this game won’t be a huge deal. They’d be one game behind the Colts with one game to play against them still. At 3-6, Houston would still be in the driver’s seat. Simply incredible.

As for the Bengals, here’s what I’m excited to see: After they destroy the Texans to win their second consecutive Primetime game, they’re going to lose on the road in Arizona in Primetime next Sunday night. Then people will pounce on the tried & true Andy Dalton narrative. Then they’ll win a Primetime game at San Francisco in week 15, followed by a loss at Denver in Primetime the next week. Once again, we’ll hear all about Dalton melting under the Primetime pressure. Just remember that he went 3-2 in “spotlight games” this year when you automatically pick against him in the playoffs. I’m already looking forward to betting HUGE on the Bengals in round 1 of the playoffs.

By the way, just an awesome job by Monday Night Football following last week’s Chicago-San Diego “showdown” with this gem of a game. Brilliant scheduling.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 8 Favorites, 6 Underdogs
  • 1 Home Dog, 5 Road Dogs
  • 7 Home Teams, 7 Away Teams
  • Season Record: 65-61-6 (7-6 in week 9)

Enjoy week 10.

Week 9 NFL Picks: The Stress of Surviving 8 Weeks

Blaine+Gabbert+San+Francisco+49ers+v+Denver+HVCCXqUNzT4l

Another week, another round of shakeups on the quarterback and coaching fronts. For those keeping score at home, here were the major moves:

  • San Francisco: Colin Kaepernick, undoubtedly the worst starting QB in the NFL through eight weeks, was benched for Blaine Gabbert, undoubtedly the worst starting QB in the NFL through the last five years.
  • Cleveland: Josh McCown is out with a concussion and Johnny Manziel will get his 2nd start of the season tonight against the undefeated Bengals in Cincinnati.
  • Tennessee: Ken Whisenhunt, who probably has the worst win-loss record of any head coach in history with at least 100 games at the helm, was fired. Mike Mularkey, career head coaching record of 16-32, was named interim head coach for the Titans.
  • Indianapolis: Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was relieved of his duties after the Colts lost their 3rd straight game and fell to 3-5 on the season. He was replaced by Rob Chudzinski.

At least these terrible teams (collective record among the four of them: 8-23) went ahead with some major changes. The problem is they probably replaced those underperforming players/coaches with guys who are equally bad or worse. You can imagine that a few of these teams will be in the mix for the first overall pick in the 2016 Draft.

In looking at the current NFL standings, you can make the case that the AFC is going to be a bit boring for the remainder of the year. Three of the four division titles are locked up while the one that is still being contested is too much of a travesty to want to pay attention to.

Over in the NFC, I think the two most important teams this week are Atlanta and Minnesota. They are in second place in their respective divisions, and losses by each of them while the 1st place team wins, would pretty much lock up two more divisions (Carolina over Atlanta in the South, Green Bay over Minnesota in the North). So if you want as many divisions as possible to come down to the wire, you’re definitely rooting for the Falcons and Vikings in week 9.

Let’s get into the picks.

Cleveland at Cincinnati (-11.5)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 33, Cleveland 14

For people who think the Bengals win or lose purely on the arm of Andy Dalton, we’ve reached that critical point in the team’s 2015 schedule. Five of Cincinnati’s next eight games are in Primetime. The Bengals are 7-0, have won nine or more games in each of Dalton’s four seasons as the starting quarterback, and have gone to the playoffs in every year of his career. But it’s the 3-7 Primetime record and four straight one-and-dones in the playoffs that everyone uses as proof that he’s no good.

So here you go, Andy. This week starts three games in a row under the bright lights. At least the Bengals get to ease into this portion of the schedule with home games against the Browns and Texans before heading to Arizona in week 11 for Sunday Night Football.

Going into week 9, I’m one of eight people remaining in my Survivor Pool. My only decent choices this week are: Cincinnati, New Orleans, Denver and Atlanta. I probably haven’t stressed about anything this much in 10 years. Seriously. After careful examination of all factors, I have to go with the Bengals. But there’s a lot of hesitation in this choice because of the following: Dalton’s history in Primetime + Thursday night game weirdness + Johnny Manziel x-factor + my ridiculous inability to pick the Thursday games this year (0-7-1 against the spread on the season).

Just win, Cincy. Even by one point. Just win.

Green Bay (-3) at Carolina

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 23, Carolina 20

The Packers just lost on the road to an undefeated team with an awesome defense in a game where Aaron Rodgers threw for 77 yards. They are once again on the road against an undefeated team with a great defense. It says a lot about us public bettors that Vegas has Green Bay as a three-point favorite. What might it say exactly? That we’re suckers, I guess.

If Cincinnati had gone to Denver last week and come away with a similar result, there’s not a chance in hell they’d be favored at Carolina a week later. But our love of the Packers and Rodgers knows no bounds, apparently.

I fully expect a push in this game, but I’ll lean towards the Packers because 1) Denver seems like a more legit 7-0 team than Carolina does, 2) It’s tough to picture Rodgers and company losing two in a row, and 3) We really need to keep whittling down the undefeated teams because this is absurd to still have four of them at this point in the season.

These reasons suck, but you tell me how to figure this game out, OK?

Washington at New England (-14)

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 40, Washington 20

Washington’s not winning this game. They’re 0-3 on the road and playing a team that is about 500 times more talented. So how much will they lose by? Exactly 20 points.

Tennessee at New Orleans (-8)

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 37, Tennessee 13

Talk about nailing the intro to last week’s picks column! I predicted all four AFC South head coaches will be fired by season’s end, and we’re already 1/4th of the way there! I mentioned that Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties after probably solidifying his status as the worst coach of the last 20 years. Chuck Pagano is only still alive because he killed Pep Hamilton (figuratively speaking). It seems like the AFC South teams’ owners are finally coming around on what we’ve all known for a while: THEY ALL STINK.

And no team stinks more than the Titans. It doesn’t matter if Marcus Mariota or Zach Mettenberger is the starter. Tennessee has put up 36 points since September 27th, total. The Saints’ week 8 performance would have beaten the last four weeks of Titans output by 16 points!

Miami at Buffalo (-3)

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 16, Miami 12

Here’s a fun way to determine which of these teams is better: Pretend their wins against the putrid AFC South don’t count, and then see what their overall records are. So for Miami, they’d be 1-4 (taking out two wins: at Tennessee and home for Houston). Buffalo…would also be 1-4 (taking out a home win against Indy and a road win at Tennessee). DAMNIT! That did nothing.

But Buffalo already won in Miami earlier this year. Now they’re in upstate New York and it’s the time of year where the weather is getting bad. Oh, also, the Bills just had a bye and got Tyrod Taylor and other contributors back to full health. Sure, fine, there’s some reasons to pick the Bills.

St. Louis at Minnesota (-2)

The Pick: St. Louis

The Score: St. Louis 24, Minnesota 20

Hey, look, it’s everyone’s preseason darlings! Yes, both of these teams were being targeted as “2015 playoff sleepers” as early as last December, and to this point, neither team has disappointed. The Vikings are 5-2 and the Rams are 4-3. But not all wins and losses are created equally. The Vikings have faced one team with a winning record, the Broncos, and lost that game. Their other opponents: San Francisco, Detroit, San Diego, Kansas City, Detroit again and Chicago. Not exactly a murderers’ row.

At least the Rams have had to face multiple contenders through the first two months (they beat Seattle and Arizona and lost to Pittsburgh and Green Bay). I think the Rams do a couple things really great, specifically rush the passer and run the ball. I don’t think the Vikings do anything as good as the Rams do those two things. Give me St. Louis as Todd Gurley comes even closer to locking up Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Jacksonville at NY Jets (-7.5)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: NY Jets 18, Jacksonville 15

Is this line Jets -7.5 or Jets -2.5? I honestly can’t figure it out. After the Jets announced on Wednesday that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the starter on Sunday, one sportsbook moved the Jets to -7 and a couple others kept them at -2.5. So I’m using the one that benefits me the most.

The Jets might not be as decent as we first thought, and therefore I don’t like them against anyone at the going point spread.

Oakland at Pittsburgh (-4.5)

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 31, Pittsburgh 17

You know what’s pretty awesome through eight weeks? Two of the three teams that are rumored to be moving to LA in the offseason are 4-3 and contending for a playoff spot (St. Louis and Oakland). I’m in favor of anything that might even slightly embarrass the NFL so I’d love to see the Raiders and Rams play January football.

Of the Raiders’ three losses, one was by two points at Chicago and the other was by six against Denver. Imagine if they had won either of those, or both of them!! This team is fun, semi-legit, and will definitely be America’s favorite underdog if they can continue to hover around .500.

NY Giants (-3) at Tampa Bay

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 27, NY Giants 26

Giants on the road? No thank you.

Besides, they have to look kind of bad in this game so we can all bet huge on the Patriots in New York next week only to have the Giants play inspired, maybe even amazing, football. We will all lose money if we bet the Patriots in week 10. Mark my words.

Atlanta (-7) at San Francisco

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: Atlanta 23, San Francisco 20

Atlanta by a touchdown on the road? No fuckinggggggggggggggg way.

Denver (-5) at Indianapolis

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 28, Indianapolis 20

You know what Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos have that the Colts lack?

Intelligence.

I don’t care if Manning is back to worst-quarterback-in-the-league status on Sunday. Their defense and their ability to outsmart an idiot organization like Indy will get them a win by a touchdown or more. Easy decision.

Philadelphia (-3) at Dallas

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 25, Philadelphia 20

This was one of my toughest decisions of the week, and I’m probably going to regret siding with Matt Cassel, but I think Dallas has enough talent at the non-QB positions to keep up with the Eagles. I know collectively we all love to watch the Cowboys struggle, and them falling to 0-6 without Tony Romo would certainly be fun to see, but I gotta think they win one at some point. I wasn’t sold on Philly from the beginning of the preseason and nothing they’ve done through eight weeks has changed my mind. Is Sam Bradford even better than Cassel? Is Philly’s defense really as good as it’s currently ranked? I think the answer is no to both questions. Go Cowboys.

Chicago at San Diego (-4)

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: San Diego 33, Chicago 30

This is so easy for me because I promised myself several weeks ago I will never pick the Chargers if they are favored by more than three, regardless of where they’re playing and who they’re facing. Done and done.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 6 Favorites, 7 Underdogs
  • 3 Home Dogs, 4 Road Dogs
  • 7 Home Teams, 6 Away Teams
  • Season Record: 58-55-6 (5-7-2 in week 8)

Enjoy week 9.

Week 8 NFL Picks: History Will Not Look Kindly Upon the AFC South

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The intro to my weekly picks column usually leans towards talking about either quarterbacks or head coaches. I guess that means I’m just like everyone else in loving the soap opera-y / professional wrestling storylines of the NFL’s two most high-profile positions. So here’s the latest.

There’s as high as a 25% chance that all four coaches from the AFC South will be fired by the end of the year. That might not seem like a high probability, but based on any info I have in my head or could find online, this has never happened. You gotta figure Chuck Pagano is a no-brainer in Indy and Bill O’Brien is as good as gone in Houston. That leaves Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee and Gus Bradley in Jacksonville. In this case the odds that both are fired is 1-in-4. Both coaches are in year three at the helm of his respective team and progress doesn’t seem to be happening quick enough. And while Bradley is a first-time head coach, Whisenhunt has an 8-year head coaching sample size to tell us he’s terrible. The guy’s 48-70 as a head coach! He hasn’t coached a winning team since 2009! So I think there’s a definite three gone, but probably all four teams will clean house with its coaching staff.

The rest of the league is 15-4 already against the AFC South in 2015. It’s only going to get worse. And if you look at the quarterbacks in that league—Luck in Indy, Mariota in Tennessee, Bortles in Jacksonville—only in Houston can the head coach point to the QB position as the main excuse for why things are so bad.

There are upwards of five other coaches across the league who are also on some spectrum of the hot seat, but our focus for the rest of 2015 will be squarely on the hopelessness that litters the AFC South’s coaching positions. Together we can make history.

Here are the week 8 picks.

Miami at New England (-9)

The Pick: Miami

The Score: New England 31, Miami 27

Since this is the Thursday night game, it’s probably getting talked about a little more than if it was slotted for Sunday at 10am. So you probably know the dilemma with making a pick: On the one hand, the Dolphins’ “resurgence” has come at the hands of the Titans and Texans, and my intro already made it crystal clear how those two teams are doing this season. On the other hand, the Patriots’ had a moderate struggle against the Jets last week, and we know New England’s offensive line is still beat up while the Suh/Wake combo in Miami has recently come to life.

By the way, I don’t know that we should be waiting on a huge scoring outburst from New England that ends in them destroying four or five teams in a row and looking like the ‘07 team. I decided if 2007 was the perfection of Tom Brady, his physical abilities and the Randy Moss hyper-charged offense, then 2015 is the perfection of Bill Belichick, his intelligence, the crazy player depth and the “whatever it takes” mentality. It might not be pretty, but they’re going to get the job done nine times out of 10.

And thus the reason for my pick.

Detroit vs Kansas City (-5) (Game in London)

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 11, Kansas City 2

Are the Kansas City fans still going to travel well this week considering: 1) The game’s all the way in London, 2) Their team is 2-5 and without its best player for the rest of the year, and 3) Their city’s baseball team, the Royals, will be playing in the World Series over the weekend, concluding with game 5 on Sunday? I doubt it. And, hey, after Detroit played such a thrilling game in London last year against the Falcons, maybe they have a growing, raucous fan base across the pond. So because I care so very little about these two pathetic teams, I’m taking the Lions on the off chance they have some fans at the game.

(This is where I need to urge you, once again, to read Grantland’s Bill Barnwell on the new low the NFL reached in terms of coaching competency during that Falcons/Lions game in 2014.)

Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-7.5)

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 30, Tampa Bay 17

The Falcons have exclusively beaten NFC East teams (four) and AFC South teams (two) so far this year. It’s not their fault that all but one of these early games ended up being against the two worst divisions in football. But because of that, it’s very hard to be impressed with any of those wins.

I’d really, REALLY love to see this line go to -7 before I bet it, but I’m banking on Jameis Winston’s wild inconsistency to give Tampa the nudge back that they need after almost winning two in a row.

Arizona (-4.5) at Cleveland

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Arizona 24, Cleveland 21

Are there still people out there dumb enough to want Johnny Manziel starting over Josh McCown? Why? For the excitement? Newsflash: He wouldn’t be replacing Alex Smith, who was voted for the 11th straight year “Quarterback Most Likely to Induce Sleep Across America.”

McCown has been legitimately exciting with some great plays to Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin throughout the season. His Browns also played in three straight games decided by three points earlier this month. And the bonus McCown gives you is epically clumsy plays like these:

I stand with McCown.

Anyway, I’m ready to start fading the Cardinals. I don’t know that they’ll lose to Cleveland, but a 3-point win seems about right. The Cardinals were at home on Monday night, coming off a loss and needing a win badly to stay ahead of Seattle, and they were facing 1-6 Baltimore (a team that’s not as bad as their record, but still pretty bad this year). And this team’s supposed to have all these offensive weapons, an intimidating defense and a genius head coach. And I saw none of that on a consistent basis throughout their narrow win. Then you look at the schedule that got them off to this 5-2 start and you really start to wonder. So yeah, I think this line is 1.5 points too high.

San Francisco at St. Louis (-9)

The Pick: St. Louis

The Score: St. Louis 20, San Francisco 0

First of all, the over/under (aka game total) for this matchup is 39.5, by far the lowest in week 8. And it should be. Don’t go thinking you’ll make an easy couple of bucks by betting the over. Both teams should struggle to crack 20 points. That’s where the big hesitation is for me in picking St. Louis. Their offense is pretty atrocious, even after accounting for Todd Gurley immediately being the best running back in football. That, and the unrelenting desire of Jeff Fisher to always be at a .500 record throughout each season (or as close as humanly possible).

I’m still picking them because the 49ers are right around rock bottom and we need to take advantage. They won’t always be this low, but for now, the Rams should do very bad things to them. I don’t think I’ve ever predicted a team to score 0 points in this column before. The real question is whether or not the Niners will ever enter St. Louis territory.

NY Giants at New Orleans (-3)

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 31, New Orleans 31

More picks column history is made: I predict a tie! The Saints and Giants deserve to tie because they are the same enigmatic, roller coaster ride, never ever ever ever trust us, team. There’s nothing to be too impressed about with either team, nothing to be too depressed about with them either. Either QB is capable of a five interception game or a three touchdown, 400 passing yards, 75% completion game.

If you want to argue for the Saints because they need it more, I’ll give you that. The Giants are still in the thick of the NFC East “race” with a loss, whereas the Saints are already in trouble in the division and are more likely chasing teams like the 4-2 Vikings and 3-3 Rams for a wildcard spot.

Minnesota at Chicago (PICK)

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 23, Minnesota 16

You know, I thought the Vikings should be favored by a field goal, but now I’m coming around on the Bears. They almost won three in a row before last week’s bye, losing the third game at Detroit in overtime. Four weeks ago they got Jay Cutler back, last week they got Alshon Jeffrey. It’s not surprising that they’re at least competitive when the majority of their starters are playing.

I also can’t wrap my head around the Vikings being 5-2. It doesn’t seem like they should be that good. So I’m going to hold them back a little while longer. I’m sure this is probably idiotic.

San Diego at Baltimore (-3)

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 54, San Diego 49

Gross. This is the most unappetizing game I’ve seen in a long time. Our best hope is that Rivers and Flacco agree ahead of time to exclusively throw bombs to their receivers all day. Then we can have some fun with this game. No running or short passes, get rid of the kickers too.

But if they play with normal rules, I’m taking the Ravens to soundly beat the Chargers. Don’t ask why because I don’t know. I flip a coin to determine over half my picks in any given week.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-1)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 30, Pittsburgh 24

Um, yes, I will take the undefeated team, the one who is GETTING a point against a 4-3 team that hasn’t even played a single game at full strength this season. If you’re just dying to pick against the Bengals, and especially if you still think Andy Dalton’s a fraud, just wait until week 9. That is the first of their back-to-back Primetime games. Wouldn’t back-to-back losses to Cleveland and Houston be just what the doctor ordered for anyone dying for some Cincy meltdown?

Tennessee at Houston (-4)

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 20, Houston 9

It’s amazing that Tennessee is 3-19 since the start of the 2014 season and that franchise has more hope right now than the Texans, who went 9-7 last year and have generally been competitive over the past five seasons. That’s what the mystery of Marcus Mariota does for an organization. Until he plays enough for us to decide whether he’s worthy or not, there’s always the hope that he is.

It’s also amazing that any team in the AFC South is favored by more than a field goal against another AFC South team. It shouldn’t be like that. Home team gets the 3-point respect and that’s it. Doesn’t matter who’s starting at QB for the other team. It certainly doesn’t matter who’s coaching. I won’t waste another word on this division.

NY Jets (-3) at Oakland

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: NY Oakland 23, NY Jets 20

I knew the Raiders were doing well and that Derek Carr was playing decent, but I didn’t know just how decent…

  • Carr is 6th in the league in passer rating, 9th in touchdown passes, 10th in completion percentage
  • Carr also does well in the advanced metrics on footballoutsiders.com, ranking 5th and 6th in their two main QB stats

We’ve left that world where we could just assume a loss out of Oakland 90% of the time.

My biggest concern with the Jets is that we haven’t seen a “Fitzy Three-Picks” performance out of Ryan Fitzpatrick yet, and there has to be one coming soon. Maybe Charles Woodson could be the catalyst for that type of game?

A win would give Oakland at least a temporary lead in the AFC Wildcard race. When’s the last time that was the case through eight weeks?

Seattle (-6) at Dallas

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 30, Dallas 10

You could construct a nice little story around picking the Cowboys. Even though they’re 0-4 without Tony Romo, three of the four games (all except the one against New England) have been very close until the end. You could even say Dallas blew a couple of those games. And it’s not like Seattle has been a great team this year. Their offensive line, especially, could get worked by Greg Hardy and company on Sunday. See? It wasn’t that hard to make you think about grabbing the six points.

But for me it comes down to the fact that at some point in this game, Matt Cassel will have to make several plays. Dallas won’t be able to run all over Seattle so what will they do if the Seahawks take a 10-0 lead? Cassel throwing into Seattle’s D excites me as a gambler.

Green Bay (-3.5) at Denver

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 20, Green Bay 12

How many times in six games this year would you guess Aaron Rodgers has gone over 250 passing yards? If you said anything other than “twice,” you’re wrong. While the Packers are undefeated and have won every game by at least a touchdown, it still doesn’t feel like they’re cruising on offense. Now they get to play a defense unlike anything they’ve seen this year. The Broncos have a secondary on par with the Seahawks and a pass rush that rivals the Rams’. (It sounds like DeMarcus Ware has a good chance to play, which helps Denver big time.)

I really do expect the Packers to struggle again on offense, so betting the Broncos comes down to whether or not you can stomach the idea that your money is tied to Peyton Manning leading his team to a decent offensive day. I can (barely) stomach that.

Indianapolis at Carolina (-7)

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Carolina 26, Indianapolis 23

Bonus prediction: Chuck Pagano will cry, tell his team the scoreboard doesn’t matter, and then talk to the media about how the 26 points they gave up is unacceptable but he’s damn proud of the 23 points they scored. And all will be well in his tiny little brain.

I think Carolina is going to run the ball down Indy’s throat all night and ultimately win, but that type of gameplan doesn’t usually lend itself to blowing the opponent out. Even if Andrew Luck marches the Colts down the field a couple times in the final minutes when the game’s already decided, I think this one will look close.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 4 Favorites, 9 Underdogs, 1 Pick
  • 5 Road Dogs, 3 Home Dogs, 1 Neutral Dog
  • 7 Home Teams, 6 Road Teams, 1 Neutral Team
  • Season Record: 53-48-4 (6-8 in Week 7)